Thom Geier
January 09, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

A young publishing exec cooks up an improbable contest to gin up sales for a folksy self-help tome from the 1970s called Marriage Is a Canoe. The plan seems simple: First, find a struggling (but salvageable) couple like shy branding consultant Emily and her hipster bicycle-builder hubby, Eli. Then send them to the lakeside upstate New York home of the author, a recent widower with his own relationship issues. In Schrank’s winsome little novel — part rom-com, part book-biz satire — real life never quite matches up to even the most well-meaning advice books. B

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