See more of the story

Some say a good marriage is when you wake up and choose your spouse again, every day, a truism a Londoner named Lauren repeatedly puts to the test in Holly Gramazio's rollicking "The Husbands."

As the book opens, a tipsy Lauren is returning home from a bash when she encounters a strange man in her apartment, claiming to be her husband. One problem? She's not married. Hundreds more problems? Lauren quickly discovers that when her possible-husband goes up into the attic, a completely different husband comes down. Over the course of the book, set during one year, she repeatedly sends husbands into the attic in search of better models, cycling through up to a dozen a day.

It's a screwball setup that Gramazio has tons of fun with. There's this encounter with a husband named Michael, who informs her she has a cat who is named after former British prime minister William E. Gladstone because of their matching sideburns (Lauren whips through so many spouses who turn out to have ear hair, rotten children or upsetting hobbies that she often doesn't bother getting their names):

"Lauren is sure she doesn't know what Gladstone's sideburns looked like. What did Gladstone do? How racist was he? Does she have a problematic cat? This is perhaps not her most pressing issue."

The most pressing issues are: Does Lauren even want a husband? And, given the panoply of options, can she stand any candidate for more than a few days?

"The Husbands" plays like a wildly entertaining variation on "Groundhog Day," in which Lauren keeps repeating the concept of marriage, learning about herself from each spouse. Gramazio, a game designer making her fiction debut, keeps the concept lively by inventing real-world solutions that make sense in Lauren's magic-attic world.

Faced with a job she doesn't know how to do, for instance, Lauren quickly learns she can call in sick a lot because she knows she'll be bailing on her husband/acquiring a new life soon. She also can spend all her money because it turns out new lives/new husbands generally bring new bank accounts.

Lauren may strike readers as too flip — one theme of "Husbands" is that she needs to figure out who she is — but Gramazio has invented a heroine who is great company and who's as quick with a quip as she is to send a husband with bad table manners packing:

"'I'll weed your garden,' one husband is always saying, turning innocent phrases into double entendres. She hates it. There's no lustful intent, it's just a constant drip of not-joke. 'I'll order your burrito.' 'I'll boil your eggs.' 'I'll take your ice cream out of the freezer.' I'll send you back into the attic, she thinks as she pulls the ladder down."

One conclusion about a woman who rejects literally hundreds of spouses in her year-long round of speed marrying is that she doesn't want a husband. Gramazio allows for that possibility in "Husbands," which she seems to have had a little trouble figuring out how to end. But, even if Lauren doesn't have much luck with marriage, this book is a match made in heaven for readers in search of a zippy read.

The Husbands

By: Holly Gramazio.

Publisher: Doubleday, 336 pages, $29.