Exciting Times

Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780062968746. $27.99. F
DEBUT This delightfully sardonic, insightful debut picks apart life at the whims of the economy, love, and self-sabotage. Ava has moved from Ireland to Hong Kong to teach English to children, a job that’s so intense, she is expected not to go to the bathroom all day. She remains very much of working-class Dublin in her nervous dealings with the English and rich Irish people she meets but takes up with one of them, Julian, a stiffly unloving and Eton-ified banker. Ava then falls for a kind Hong Kong woman, Edith, but can’t be honest with either partner, let alone herself, about her feelings or desires for the future. The first two sections of the book, which portray Ava’s two relationships, are the most satisfying. The last section looks at the love triangle and can be frustrating.
VERDICT Overall, this surprising novel is believable and piercingly written, with many hilarious lines, such as when Ava wonders if a nasty English character is “a real person or three Mitford sisters in a long coat.” For fans of Rachel Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin. [See Prepub Alert, 12/2/19.]

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