4.5* – Like everyone else, I’ve been a little in love with Mother Lucy since This Is My Body (yes, I know she’s a priest and yes, I know she doesn’t exist) so a new Hobbs novel so soon after that one was unexpected good news. Also, I really like Elena Graf’s writing style, and I knew if someone could pull off a no-nonsense but sexy romance in the midst of the pandemic, it’s her.
When the novel begins, the reader knows more than the characters since we’ve just been through what they’re about to discover. We know what seemed like a far away virus turned into a pandemic. Liz Stolz feels it, fears it, but doesn’t know it yet the way the reader does. There’s a feeling of impending doom, a sense of dread. But Liz has one thing over the reader: she can act and try to protect her loved ones, her staff, her patients, her town. And we all know by now that Liz is really good at her job(s).
There’s, of course, a lot more in this novel than getting prepared for a pandemic. As the title suggests, Corona is the setting but the story is one of love. Brenda Harrison, the police chief of Hobbs, has a thing for Cherie Bois, Liz Stolz’s new physician assistant, but from Cherie’s attitude from the moment they were introduced, Brenda feels she’s taken an instant dislike to her. Although that dislike is real, it’s not personal, Cherie doesn’t trust cops because of her own history as a white-passing Black woman. Thanks to Mother Lucy’s guidance, she’ll work on overcoming her fears only to have the budding relationship halted in its tracks by quarantine.
One could expect a novel set during the Covid-19 pandemic to be gloomy and distressing. This one, however, is the opposite, it’s full of warmth, hopeful possibilities and a wonderful sense of community, of belonging. It’s a little heavy on spirituality for my taste, but since Lucy is the main vector of that spirituality, it worked for me anyhow. Liz is her usual take-charge self, and we’d all be lucky to have someone like her in our corner. She and Maggie open their home to Maggie’s daughter and grandchildren (homeschooling parents will understand what that implies) and a few other lost sheep as the threat becomes more real. All these characters we’ve come to know and love get a chance to show who they are in yet another (but more global) crisis. Their resilience and strength shine through music and wit, love, dry humour and spirituality in many forms.
Elena Graf keeps surprising me, and I can’t get enough of it.