Review of Flying Solo by Linda Holmes
In this satisfying story by the author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes offers sweet, funny dialogue; a complicated reunion between old flames; and a hometown return that's both heartwarming and fraught.
Flying Solo has been on my to-read list all summer. Because I was back in my old stomping grounds of Maine last week, seeing family and old friends in my former hometown, it seemed like the perfect time to read Flying Solo, Linda Holmes's Maine-set title about returning to a childhood safe haven and reconnecting with old friends and an old flame.
In Flying Solo, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown, stinging from her recently canceled wedding, facing being on the cusp of forty, and ready to dive into the massive job of dismantling her beloved, recently deceased, never married great aunt Dot's collectible- and memento-filled house.
Who, she wondered, are all these people who live in the place where I once felt like I knew everyone?
Then an unusual antique she finds in Dot's attic and an old love letter send her on a wild caper through her own past, back to her first love and her oldest friend, as well as into the hands of con artists and antique dealers eager for what she's got.
I adore Holmes's excellent ability to set up and develop a rom-com with depth. Her wonderful dialogue, appropriate and satisfying sentimentality, and the thrill of connection--I love all of it.
I wasn't sure I was going to be in for the antique caper angle here, but Holmes layers it into her story without jarring or disrupting the affectionate feel of the old-flame reunion and the true-friendship bedrock that I loved.
Regarding the love story, Holmes inserts the reader directly into the joy and heartache of two people who adore each other and who feel perfect for each other in most ways, but who continue to want different things from their lives. There aren't forced misunderstandings here, nor is there a manufactured failure to relay key information to each other, or any other manipulative element. This is a sometimes gut-wrenching exploration of whether deep love can overcome disparate life plans without subsuming one person's desires and priorities into the collective relationship.
Flying Solo is complex and beautiful as Laurie and Nick circle around each other, knowing themselves, wanting each other, yet recognizing that their differing life plans may not intersect in any long-term way.
...she had spent the last few years chasing the feelings of comfort and trust, and the magnetic and uncomplicated drawing together, that she'd felt with him.... But that feeling that she was connected like the sides of a locket to the other half of herself, that feeling had never returned. Maybe that feeling belonged to being younger, and not to him, but what if it did belong to him?
I appreciated that Laurie's desire for independence and solitude weren't swept away in a convenient, abrupt sea change. Holmes digs into a complicated, messy situation that's far more interesting than that. I loved this.
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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and is also the author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, a light fiction story I loved.
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of Ballantine Books and NetGalley.