Recently, I got to talk with Evan James, author of the new satirical novel “Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe,” for a feature story for the Bainbridge Island Review. The book is set on Bainbridge, and the author is an island boy, so it’s a highly anticipated book round these parts.
*Originally published in the Bainbridge Island Review.
It begins, as so many Bainbridge stories do, on a tennis court.
From there the Widdicombe family’s summer spirals, ultimately involving some drastic decorating, a whiff of romance, a healthy dose of heartbreak, a bit of chemical dependency and a veritable maelstrom of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings and irrepressible passions set against the seemingly idyllic backdrop of their new home, Willowbrook Manor, on Bainbridge Island.
Named one of the year’s most anticipated reads by LitHub and Entertainment Weekly, Evan James’ “Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe: A Novel” has been called a hilarious and sophisticated comedy of manners from a bright new voice in contemporary fiction.
He has taught at the University of Iowa, the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and currently teaches creative writing and English at Pierrepont School in Westport, Connecticut.
It’s a far cry from where he began, though, and the source of his novel’s inspiration.
Write what you know, the old would-be author adage goes. And James boasts an island pedigree beyond reproach. Though he now resides in New York, in setting his satire on the beautiful shores of Bainbridge he knew very well of what he wrote.
Born in Seattle, the island boy attended Ordway Elementary School, Commodore Options School, Woodward Middle School and graduated from Bainbridge High. He played on the school tennis team, worked at the Streamliner Diner and the Winslow Way Cafe, and was a frequent shopper at Eagle Harbor Book Company, a personally beloved locale to which he will return to celebrate the release of this, his first novel, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4.