Recovering from a personal tragedy, the awkward, life-loving, and humorous Vanessa “Calamity Vanity” Jane VanBuren reluctantly agrees to go on a rafting trip with a close friend. All heads turn when Craig Bjorn Eriksen, a young Norwegian man who could be mistaken for an A-list actor, walks in, closely followed by a trail of beautiful women.
Self-conscious, Vanity is instantly smitten with him but doubts he will notice her. To Vanity’s astonishment, Craig ignores the other women and turns his attention to her. Fate then places them together on a life-changing journey. They share daring adventures, unnerving situations, and even near-death experiences as Craig pushes Vanity out of her comfort zone.
As summer ends, so too does their time together. Their love remains frozen in time although they live across borders and do not communicate.
Years after their tearful goodbye, Vanity discovers Craig has a coincidental connection to her current life. What she learns threatens to penetrate the fortress she built around her memories of their time together. As Vanity reflects on the choices she made during and after the summer she spent with Craig, she changes the trajectory of her remaining years. Cleverly written in a memoir format embedded within a novel,
New River Vanity is heartfelt, inspirational, uplifting, and poignant. It will make you laugh and cry, but most of all, Vanity’s story will inspire you to love like there is no tomorrow.
The couple eventually makes a bold, painful decision, one that Noftz wrings for much feeling. After life-changing experiences together, they decide to “[freeze] their love in time” to let it remain as perfect and untainted as possible as they go their separate ways—“so it would live on, long after our goodbye, long after our youth faded.” Of course, the story doesn’t end there, and Vanessa, starting a new life on a horse farm, eventually meets Aubrey, a woman with a surprising connection to Craig. Noftz’s debut is a perfect example of a carefully crafted and continually surprising romantic plot, crossing over multiple seasons of life, drawn from real and poignant emotions that are felt on the page.
At times the matter-of-fact writing and quick pacing of the story come at the expense of the pleasures of lyricism. Still, it's easy to get caught up in these sweeping emotions as it all builds to an urgent choice: should these two rekindle their love and risk tampering its perfection, daring to find out if it can be sustained through all of life’s twists and turns?
Takeaway: Superbly plotted love story of passion, discovery, and reflection, spanning years.
Comparable Titles: Jill Santopolo’s The Light We Lost, Emily Henry’s Happy Place.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A