When thirty-three-year-old Alice Black discovers a deer in her dining room after fighting with her boyfriend, she wonders if she’s going crazy. Pete Ross, forty-six, knows he’s crazy. He’s wrecked his marriage, slashed his wrists, and done time in a psychiatric institution, and now he's being cared for by his mother, who’s a nun. Forty-five-year-old Helen Harland, a spirited Unitarian Universalist minister, is being driven crazy by her hostile church administration. Living in Los Feliz, California, the three meet at Helen’s Wednesday midweek services. Though initially incompatible, the sheer force of Helen’s idiosyncratic ministering (her “variety show of religious experience”)–paired with Alice’s illustrious ancestor William James–proves to be a catalyst for friendship and a kind of transcendence.
“Michelle Huneven is a writer of extraordinary and thrilling talent, and Jamesland is a marvel.”
"Michelle Huneven's joyous new novel, Jamesland, is the best thing for the blues since lithium. . . . Squeaking, squelching, sloshing, the hearts of Huneven's characters beat a shaky rhythm, beside which a reader's own can't help thumping along. Like Anne Tyler, whom readers found long before the prize-givers ever did--or like the foxglove, which was soothing hearts centuries before apothecaries ever pestled it into tablets–Jamesland is good for what ails you."
San Francisco Chronicle
Offbeat and vigorously written. . . . Engrossing . . . Jamesland is a winning place to while away some time."
The New York Times Book Review
“Generosity, humor and tolerance shine in Huneven’s writing.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A delicate tale of personalities and longing. . . . The real landscape of Jamesland is an interior one, the intersection between the tangible and the not-quite-real.”
"A great L.A. novel. . . . One of the goals of the novel since the beginning of the form has been to realistically capture love, that ever-flitting butterfly, in its contemporary incarnation. Huneven is one of our few writers who can deliver an authentic love story, with characters as unlikely for redemption as possible, as failed and weird and hopeless as ourselves. She somehow nudges them into relationships that change the feeling of everything."
"Jamesland is gold. Michelle Huneven gives as good as any reader can hope to get."