Nosy Neighbors

Freya Sampson's charming third novel, Nosy Neighbors, focuses on a dilapidated historic building in an English village and its tenants, who band together to stop the building's demolition. Dorothy Darling, age 77, has lived at Shelley House for decades. She spends most of her time observing her neighbors' behavior and reporting them for small infractions. Pink-haired Kat is running from her past and has just moved into the flat of Joseph, a kind tenant at Shelley House. Kat, who's illegally subletting Joseph's second bedroom, tries steering clear of Dorothy, until Joseph is attacked and ends up in the hospital. Kat enlists Dorothy's help in caring for Joseph's dog, Reggie, and before long the two women (and their neighbors) find themselves staging protests, combing newspaper archives for evidence against their sleazy landlord, and trying to figure out who attacked Joseph.

Sampson (The Last Chance Library) alternates between Kat's and Dorothy's perspectives, gradually peeling back the layers of the secrets both women hide. The two, though decades apart in age, are similarly plagued by guilt from past incidents, convinced they don't deserve the support of a community. Gradually, their kind neighbors--including teenage Ayesha, gruff Tomasz, and even Reggie the dog--crack open Kat's and Dorothy's protective shells. Although Sampson's narrative includes some dramatic moments (even a car chase!) and a final confrontation, the novel's heart lies in the quiet acts of everyday compassion and wry, honest exchanges between neighbors.

Touching, entertaining, and deeply compassionate, Nosy Neighbors is a tribute to the power of unexpected community and a portrait of two women who take the risk of healing. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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