Whenever I’m asked which of my books is my favorite, I answer honestly—it depends on the day. But when pressed, I admit that there’s one that’s maybe a little closer to home than others. And that’s The Next Best Thing.
Most of my books don’t magically come to me. They’re all hard to write, because writing a book takes a lot of work and time. But the idea for this book came as I was out for my trudging run. I thought, “Well, we haven’t written about a widow yet. I guess we should think about that.” I always use the royal we when talking to myself for some reason.
An image came to me (sort of magically, I guess, through the veil of sweat and pain). A woman going to work in the early, early morning, when no one else was awake. A sense of loneliness and yearning. Seagulls.
There’s a lot of my own life in that story, see. I love to bake, and Lucy’s family runs a bakery. She’s from a Hungarian family with a lot of widows, and so am I. She tried self tanner with less than, ah, natural results, and so have I. : )
But there are a lot of other things I love about this book, too.
Ethan. My friend Huntley read this book long ago, and she still can’t get over him. Ethan is steadfast, funny, and helplessly in love with our heroine, who is determined to find someone who won’t pose her poor battered heart any threat. Ethan also has a way with older women, and who doesn’t love that?
The bakery. Bunny’s Bakery was named for my grandmother, who died before this book came out. Bunny was her nickname, and boy, the woman could bake! All my mad skills with the Kitchenaid come from my gram. Bunny’s is a place I’d love to hang out, were it not for the pesky issue of it being a fictional place.
Jimmy. Jimmy is Lucy’s late husband. He died in a car accident eight miles from home. He was the love of Lucy’s life, this wonderful, warm guy who swept her off her feet and loved her tremendously. I loved the enormous challenge Lucy had to overcome during the book—after all, she’s lost a husband before their first anniversary. She has issues.
Mackerly, Rhode Island. This is a town I’d move to in a heartbeat. A little town green, a great Italian restaurant, the aforementioned bakery, and a tour boat operation that has a very colorful take on island history.
Lenny’s. The other restaurant in town, a place where you’ll be ignored till you speak up. Surly waitresses, great sandwiches and the home of one of my all-time favorite bad date scenes.
I hope you rush out and buy a copy of The Next Best Thing and let me know what you think! In the meantime, one of you commenters will will a copy of The Best Man if you tell me what your favorite dessert is.
Here are some buy links to make life easy for you, too. : )
Thanks so much!