In his seventh novel, Tom Perrotta’s heroine contemplates a completely empty nest

The author whose works include “The Leftovers” — as in, the inspiration behind the hit HBO series — has a new book, “Mrs. Fletcher,” about a divorced mother whose live expands in unexpected ways after her son leaves for college.

Lit Life

In one of those lovely it’s-a-small-world serendipities, one of my dearest friends is married to an old college friend of the author Tom Perrotta, whose works include “The Leftovers,” “Election,” “Little Children,” and his latest novel “Mrs. Fletcher.” My friend’s husband recently shared memories with me of a long-ago visit to Perrotta’s New Jersey home:

We went to the local café, where I think we talked about how he talked with and understood the characters in his life; saw the softball fields where a good part of socialization took place. I remember a warm, but not oppressive summer night, meeting his family. When reading his works, I go back to the feel, the light, the calm, and the knowledge that everyone in those scenes had a story.

I can’t think of a better way to describe how Perrotta’s books affect me, too: how every character has their own story, and how Perrotta, a writer of an unusually generous spirit, lets each person in his books shine in their own light. Their actions may not always be admirable, but we’re given the tools to understand them; they seem complex and well-meaning and utterly real.

Author appearance

Tom Perrotta

The author of “Mrs. Fletcher” will speak at Seattle Public Library’s Central Library at 7 p.m. Aug. 17; free. Information: 206-386-4636 or

Perrotta will be in town Aug. 17 to speak at Seattle Public Library about his seventh and latest novel, “Mrs. Fletcher,” about a divorced mother named Eve whose life — social, emotional, sexual — begins to expand in unexpected ways after her only son leaves for college. In a warm telephone interview last week (yes, he remembered my friend, and had kept up with their family), he said that the book had a somewhat autobiographical element, as do many of his novels.

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“The Wishbones,” written when a thirtysomething Perrotta was pondering whether to quit writing (he hadn’t yet published any of his work) and go to law school, follows a sunny New Jersey 30-year-old named Dave, who’s still following his dream of playing in a band. (That charming 1997 novel, by the way, is one of…

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