Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 304 pages
First Published: 2023
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Scribner through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
When his boss retires, longtime bartender Malcolm jumps at the chance to buy The Half Moon. But Malcolm quickly learns that turning a profit is harder than he anticipated. Meanwhile, his wife Jess’s long battle with infertility has her reassessing her life dreams. Three months after Jess walked out, Malcolm learns a secret about her, a bar patron goes missing, and a blizzard strikes in this tale of a marriage in crisis.
Having loved Keane’s last novel, Ask Again, Yes, I found myself disappointed while reading The Half Moon. Keane’s novel takes place over a week, but the excess of long flashbacks of their complicated marriage interrupted the flow of the story. The emotional draw just wasn’t there; I didn’t really feel for any of the characters. I’m not even sure what message the book was trying to convey.
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.
About Mary Beth Keane
Mary Beth Keane is the author of three novels: The Walking People, Fever, The Half Moon, and Ask Again, Yes. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and two children. Visit the author’s website →