Monday, June 13, 2022

Monday 6/13 at 9am pst - Critically-acclaimed author, Annie Hartnett, talks about her brilliant new book, UNLIKELY ANIMALS

While visiting friends in New Hampshire, Hartnett became fascinated with nineteenth-century robber baron Austin Corbin’s historical estate, and a real life Doctor Doolittle that worked there! This surreal property, Corbin''s Park, became a secret, exclusive hunting park that still exists today. The true story is fascinating and it's no surprise it inspired Unlikely Animals—already receiving rave reviews! 

“Hartnett masterfully balances a story of deep loss with the perfect amount of hilarity and tenderness.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Hartnett’s whimsical storytelling casts a spell.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a big novel doing big things. It bears some similarity to Hartnett’s much- loved first novel, Rabbit Cake. . . . But Unlikely Animals is a broader, brassier, and even more fiercely tender story. In this, her second novel, Hartnett lands an astonishing leap as a storyteller.”—The Rumpus

“Wistfully charming . . . This unapologetically genre-bending tribute to life and death, and the beautiful weirdness found in both, has potential to spark exceptional book club discussions.”—Shelf Awareness

Author Annie Hartnett released her first novel, Rabbit Cake, in 2017 to critical acclaim. Numerous media outlets included it on their “Best of ” lists, and it was named a finalist for the New England Book Award, long-listed for The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and shortlisted for The Crook's Corner Book Prize for Best Debut set in the South. Reviewers called it “[a] treasure” (People Magazine) and “truly terrific and original” (Booklist). Now, I’m excited to share that Hartnett has knocked it out of the park once more with her second novel, UNLIKELY ANIMALS (Ballantine Hardcover; On Sale 4/12/2022). When I first started reading this tender, funny, quirky story, I realized quickly that I had never encountered anything like it before.

Upon first glance, you may think the plot sounds familiar: a young woman returns home to a complicated family after a failed attempt at striking out on her own. But add a dash of zoology and a bit of mystery, all mixed with a smidge of the supernatural and set against the backdrop of the opioid crisis, and you have a story that is wholly, wonderfully unique. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Natural-born healer Emma Starling once had big plans for her life, but she’s lost her way. A med school dropout, she’s come back to small-town Everton, New Hampshire, to care for her father, dying from a mysterious brain disease. Clive Starling has been hallucinating small animals, as well as visions of the ghost of a long-dead naturalist, Ernest Harold Baynes, once known for letting wild animals live in his house. This ghost has been giving Clive some ideas on how to spend his final days.

Emma arrives home knowing she must face her dad’s illness, her mom’s judgement, and her younger brother’s recent stint in rehab, but she’s unprepared to find that her former best friend from high school is missing, with no one bothering to look for her. The police say they don’t spend much time looking for drug addicts. Emma’s dad is the only one convinced the young woman might still be alive, and Emma is hopeful he could be right. Someone should look for her, at least. Emma isn’t really trying to be a hero—but somehow she and her father set in motion just the kind of miracle the town needs.


Annie Hartnett is the author of Rabbit Cake. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Associates of the Boston Public Library. She studied philosophy at Hamilton College, has an MA from Middlebury College, and an MFA from the University of Alabama. When she began writing Unlikely Animals, she was living in the groundskeeper’s house in a cemetery. She now lives in Providence, Rhode Island, in an ordinary house with her husband, daughter, and darling border collie, Mr. Willie Nelson.


“Unlikely Animals is a testament to the wild talent of Annie Hartnett. This novel possesses such tenderness and empathy for a world that wears us down and ruins us, a world that sometimes offers a glimmer of hope, and Hartnett knows how to turn up the brilliance of that light and wield it to do magical things.”
—Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang

“A wondrous and wonderful story filled with unforgettable characters, both living and dead. An instant classic that will make you question reality even as you embrace a town with a unique relationship to nature and miracles. Please, please read this marvelous book.”

—Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy

“A riotous, joyful, hilarious romp with the wild and the tamed, the living and the dead, Unlikely Animals is both a love letter to John Irving and a literary accomplishment in its own right. Annie Hartnett is the real deal, and Unlikely Animals is a triumph.”

—Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen, finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award

“I devoured Annie Hartnett's Unlikely Animals. She's created a beautiful menagerie set inside a troubled household and their small New Hampshire town; a delightful mess of tenderness, grief, and despair, but most importantly, hope. This book is a winner.”

—Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth

“Unlikely Animals is a modern fairytale that beguiles and breaks the heart. Annie Hartnett walks a tightrope of comedy and tragedy, in tender, sparkling prose cut with wit. A large-hearted story populated by an original and amiable cast of characters — human, animal, spirit — about living, dying, and all the messiness in between.”

—Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin

“Unlikely Animals is a wonderful love song to a place and the people who live there, past and present. It is a warm, joyful, generous novel about families and human frailty — an homage to the dead and a celebration of the living, one that embraces the complexity and fullness of both.”

—Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

“No one is better at heart than Annie Hartnett—in the best, most layered, most complicated and deeply human sense—and still Unlikely Animals stunned me. There are tame(ish) foxes, a ghost, a Greek chorus that speaks from their graves at the town cemetery, a cast of eccentric fifth-graders, and a deeply troubled, devoted, hilarious family—and every last one of them became dear to me. In a book rich with miracles, it’s this complexity and expansiveness of connection that feels most miraculous of all.”

—Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson

Coming up 4/17 at 9:30am - CEO Glenn Gray and Dr. Alissa Deming, VP of Conservation Medicine & Science, sat down with me to talk about the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Today’s show is a little different. If you think you hear strange noises during the show, well they are not actually strange at all. They ar...