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  • Hodder & Stoughton

Unlikely Animals: A must-read, hilarious, heart-warming and moving family drama

Annie Hartnett

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction

A lost young woman returns to small-town New Hampshire under the strangest of circumstances in this one-of-a-kind novel of life, death, and whatever comes after.

A lost young woman returns to small-town New Hampshire under the strangest of circumstances in this one-of-a-kind novel of life, death, and whatever comes after from the acclaimed author of Rabbit Cake.

'Bewitching!' New York Times

'A wondrous and wonderful story filled with unforgettable characters, both living and dead . . . an instant classic' Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy

It was a source of entertainment at Maple Street Cemetery. Both funny and sad, the kind of story we like best.

Natural-born healer Emma Starling once had big plans for her life, but she's lost her way. A medical school dropout, she's come back to small-town Everton, New Hampshire, to care for her father, who is dying from a mysterious brain disease. Clive Starling has been hallucinating small animals, as well as having visions of the ghost of a long-dead naturalist, Ernest Harold Baynes, once known for letting wild animals live in his house. This ghost has been giving Clive some ideas on how to spend his final days.

Emma arrives home knowing she must face her dad's illness, her mom's judgment, and her younger brother's recent stint in rehab, but she's unprepared to find that her former best friend from high school is missing, with no one bothering to look for her. The police say they don't spend much time looking for drug addicts. Emma's dad is the only one convinced the young woman might still be alive, and Emma is hopeful he could be right. Someone should look for her, at least. Emma isn't really trying to be a hero, but somehow she and her father bring about just the kind of miracle the town needs.

Set against the backdrop of a small town in the throes of a very real opioid crisis, Unlikely Animals is a tragicomic novel about familial expectations, imperfect friendships, and the possibility of resurrecting that which had been thought irrevocably lost.

'Hartnett's whimsical storytelling casts a spell' Publishers Weekly

'An absurdist, laugh-out-loud family drama about intergenerational healing' Kirkus Reviews

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Praise for Unlikely Animals: A must-read, hilarious, heart-warming and moving family drama

  • An absurdist, laugh-out-loud family drama about intergenerational healing - Kirkus Reviews

  • This is a big novel doing big things. It bears some similarity to Hartnett's much- loved first novel, Rabbit Cake. . . . But Unlikely Animals is a broader, brassier, and even more fiercely tender story. In this, her second novel, Hartnett lands an astonishing leap as a storyteller - The Rumpus

  • Hartnett masterfully balances a story of deep loss with the perfect amount of hilarity and tenderness - Booklist (starred review)

  • A wondrous and wonderful story filled with unforgettable characters, both living and dead . . . an instant classic - Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy

  • I devoured Annie Hartnett's Unlikely Animals. She's created a beautiful menagerie set inside a troubled household and their small New Hampshire town; a delightful mess of tenderness, grief, and despair, but most important, hope - Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth

  • Wistfully charming . . . This unapologetically genre-bending tribute to life and death, and the beautiful weirdness found in both, has potential to spark exceptional book club discussions - Shelf Awareness

  • Unlikely Animals possesses such tenderness and empathy for a world that wears us down and ruins us, a world that sometimes offers a glimmer of hope, and Hartnett knows how to turn up the brilliance of that light and wield it to do magical things - Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang

  • Hartnett's whimsical storytelling casts a spell - Publishers Weekly

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Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett is the author of Rabbit Cake. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Associates of the Boston Public Library. She studied philosophy at Hamilton College, has an MA from Middlebury Col lege, and an MFA from the University of Alabama. When she began writing this book, she was living in the groundskeeper's house in a cemetery. She now lives in Providence, Rhode Island, in an ordinary house with her husband, daughter, and darling bor der collie, Mr. Willie Nelson.

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