Nichols, Linda 1954-
NICHOLS, Linda 1954–
PERSONAL: Born 1954, in GA; married; husband's name, Ken (a lawyer); children: three sons. Education: University of Washington, degree in communications. Religion: Christian.
ADDRESSES: Home—Tacoma, WA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bethany House Publishers, 11400 Hampshire Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55438.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a secretary.
Handyman (novel), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Not a Sparrow Falls (novel), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
If I Gained the World (novel), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
At the Scent of Water (novel), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
Contributor of articles to parenting magazines.
ADAPTATIONS: Handyman has been adapted into an audiobook, and the film rights to it have been sold.
SIDELIGHTS: Linda Nichols entered the realm of published novelists with Handyman, a contemporary mainstream romance involving psychotherapy. After its publication, personal problems led her to renew her religious faith and begin writing novels from a Christian point of view; her more recent works can be classified as inspirational fiction. Nichols's career as a novelist was the realization of a long-held dream. As she wrote on her home page, "I have plotted and constructed dialogue for as long as I can remember. Daydreaming and making up stories was my entertainment, and reading was my passion." After marrying, having children, and working as a secretary, she began writing as a freelancer for parenting magazines; she then took a fiction writing class and started developing novels. Nichols intended to write something serious, before coming up with an idea for a comic plot of mistaken identity that became Handyman.
In Handyman San Franciscan single mother Maggie Ivey seeks therapy to help her deal with the many pressures on her. When she goes to a therapist's office, she thinks Jake, the carpenter doing a remodeling job, is the therapist. Because Jake is attracted to her and the doctor is out of town for an extended period, he lets her think so. Jake does give her sound advice, and eventually they fall in love, but Jake's deception creates complications. Some critics described the novel as light and enjoyable, with twists that keep it from being formulaic. "There are delightful local-color vignettes … as well as satirical jabs at pop psychology," commented Joyce W. Smothers in Library Journal. In a similar vein, a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "Nichols has a fine sense of irony and her lampoon of the expensive self-help industry is often droll." Sandy Huseby, who profiled Nichols for Bookpage online thought the novel "a truly fresh take on a classic love story"—a Cinderella tale of sorts. As for the satire of psychotherapy, Nichols told Huseby that "Handyman does sort of poke fun at psychobabble, but I don't think struggling with mental health issues is funny, and I'm very much in favor of competent counselors and psychologists doing their work. But there is an aspect to the whole self-help industry that strikes me as very commercial and almost addictive in nature."
Nichols's first inspirational effort, Not a Sparrow Falls, is about a young woman, Bridie, who was once a criminal but finds a new life, faith, and love when she becomes the caregiver to a widowed minister's children. Library Journal contributor Shawna Saavedra Thorup described the novel as having "drama" that "offsets the stock characters and predictable plot." If I Gained the World follows a woman named Lenore, who leaves a lover who will not commit to her, then meets him again years later after she has grown in confidence, thanks partly to the influence of Christianity. Tamara Butler, writing in Library Journal, deemed this book "rich and unsentimental," a "highquality relationship novel" with "skillfully developed" characters. Butler, critiquing Nichols's next novel, At the Scent of Water, for Library Journal, found it "not as enthralling as its predecessor," but still "above average." It tells the story of a cardiac surgeon who tries to mend his workaholic ways and win back his wife. Butler also praised Nichols's ability to draw "complex, intriguing characters," dubbing the author a "master" at this.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Joyce W. Smothers, review of Handyman, p. 100; April 15, 2001, Barbara Valle, review of Handyman, p. 154; September 1, 2002, Shawna Saavedra Thorup, review of Not a Sparrow Falls, p. 154; September 1, 2003, Tamara Butler, review of If I Gained the World, p. 148; September 1, 2004, Tamara Butler, review of At the Scent of Water, p. 134.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Handyman, p. 46.
Bookpage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (May 22, 2005), Sandy Huseby, "A Cinderella Story, a Dazzling Debut."
Linda Nichols Home Page, http://www.lindanichols.org (May 22, 2005).