Spotlight Review: THE HALF MOON by Mary Beth Keane

From the publisher:

From the beloved author of the triumphant New York Times bestseller Ask Again, Yes comes a magnificently told novel about the complexities of marriage, family, longing, and desire.

Malcolm Gephardt, the handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss is finally ready to retire, Malcolm is inspired to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success—but quickly realizes that his customers don’t like change and that making a profit won’t be easy.

Malcolm’s wife Jess is smart, confident, and has dedicated herself to her law career. But after years of trying to have a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away, and while her hopes and expectations fall short of the current reality, she wonders how to reshape her life.

Taking place over the course of one tumultuous week—when Malcolm learns shocking news about Jess, a patron of the bar goes missing, and their town gets hit by a massive blizzard—award-winning author Mary Beth Keane’s skilled storytelling and generous spirit are on full display as she carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.

Mary Beth Keane (Ask Again, Yes) takes us into a marriage that is struggling. Jess and Malcolm married when she got pregnant, but she lost that baby. That turns into years of infertility treatments and IVF, which is immensely frustrating and expensive. Jess is an attorney but doesn’t love her job, only the paycheck that comes with it. Malcolm recently purchased the bar where he’s worked for over twenty years, but he neglects to tell Jess that he also bought the building on a handshake deal with his old boss, which proves to be a problem. Everything comes to a head one week in this small town when a blizzard hits and everyone loses power, one of the bar’s regulars goes missing, Malcolm is feeling overwhelmed with money problems, and worst of all, Jess has left him for another man, begging the question: can this marriage be saved?

Verdict: This deep dive into the complexities of marriage makes this perfect fodder for book discussions. Should appeal to readers who enjoy Elizabeth Berg, Eleanor Lipman, or Meg Wolitzer.

©Library Journal, 2023

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HALF MOON by Mary Beth Keane. Scribner (May 2, 2023). ISBN:  978-1982172602. 304p.



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