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Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham

Holly Denham, the lead of this epistolary novel (and yes, the name of the author), is an overwhelmed receptionist at a major British bank. The reader’s access to Holly’s frantic life is via her e-mail inbox-the entirety of the novel, in fact, is e-mail messages sent by, among others, her gay best friend (a chick lit necessity), her brassy co-workers (another requirement), her meddling mother (check, again) and, of course, her would-be paramour (ditto). The plot runs along very traditional lines, and in the end overreaches for a happy ending, but this overlong novel’s saving graces are its fast pacing and very funny writing. Some of the best exchanges are between Holly and her grandmother, who sends e-mails that just read “TESTING” and signs her up for annoyingly spammy Web services. Despite the limitations inherent in an e-epistolary novel, the book is populated by vibrant, endearing characters, and Denham manages to juggle a dozen story lines at once. The ending’s contrived, but feel-good, which, in these gloomy times, might be enough to do the trick. (June)
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