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The Guncle


About The Book

From the author of Lily and the Octopus comes a moving and deeply funny novel about a once-famous sitcom star who is left to care for his niece and nephew after an unexpected family tragedy.
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them … in small doses, with their parents there to handle the tears and tricky questions. So when tragedy strikes and Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian, he is, honestly, overwhelmed.

Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to young children. But when he realises that parenting isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility and the realisation that, sometimes, being vulnerable is the only way to heal from grief.
Tender, charming and laugh-out-loud funny, The Guncle is a testament to finding happiness and peace in the most trying of times.
‘Steven Rowley’s The Guncle is a gift. At once funny, charming and heartbreaking, it’s that rare novel that will have you laughing out loud, even through tears. I have yet to meet a person who did not love this book.’ Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Good Sister and The Younger Wife

‘A joyous Auntie Mame spritz! A reading pleasure; pour yourself a tall glass and enjoy, preferably poolside. You deserve it!’ Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Less

About The Author

Malina Saval

Steven Rowley has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his boyfriend and their dog. He is the author of Lily and the Octopus, The Editor, and The Guncle. Follow him on social media @MrStevenRowley.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (June 1, 2022)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781761107566

Raves and Reviews

‘A joyous Auntie Mame spritz! A reading pleasure; pour yourself a tall glass and enjoy, preferably poolside. You deserve it!’

– Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Less

The Guncle is super funny, charming, and tender. Love, loss, and Palm Springs are the perfect ingredients for a delightful cocktail.’

– Gary Janetti, author of Do You Mind If I Cancel?

‘A formerly famous gay sitcom star is suddenly tasked with raising his niece and nephew in this sweet, saucy novel.’

– Vogue

‘In his heartwarming, humorous new novel, Steven Rowley shows readers the true meaning of family, reminding us that everyone – even parents – is only human.’

– Travel & Leisure

‘The author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor delivers arguably his funniest and most poignant novel yet.’

– E! News

‘[A] moving, feel-good summer escape.’

– Newsweek

‘Deeply entertaining.’

– Real Simple

‘A laugh-out-loud heart-warmer.’

– Oprah Daily

‘[A] brilliant tale of loss and love.’

– Good Morning America

‘[A] funny and heartwarming beach read.’


‘[A] feel-good story, perfect for summer.’


‘Rowley hits the sweet spot between hilarity and heart in this endearing charmer.’

– The Christian Science Monitor

‘Often hilarious, sometimes devastating, and genuinely touching.’

– New York Daily News

‘Chronicles grief in a way that offers a lot of comfort to the reader, and while at various points is a definite tearjerker, it often unlocks the humor and joy that can still be found after those we loved are gone. . . . Wistful, warm, and very funny.’

– Fodor’s Travel

‘As hysterically funny as it is profound, The Guncle is the perfect summer read for anyone who’s looking for a good time with amazing characters without forfeiting deep and meaningful discussions that will feel like a balm to the soul for anyone who’s ever lost someone.’

– The Nerd Daily

‘Cue some family growing pains and humorous antics, and you get this heartwarming novel you’ll devour in a flash.’

– theSkimm

‘A big-hearted, laugh-out-loud-funny kind of book that’s sure to stay with you long after you turn the final page.’

– PopSugar

‘Rowley uses the juxtaposition of lifestyles and situations for an enormous comic harvest without once forgetting the sorrow and tragedy that have resulted in the situation. The characterisations are rich and wonderful, and Rowley writes with a tenderness, affection and empathy about life, sorrow and family that’s the stuff of pure heart.’

– The Day (CT)

‘Hilarious and heartwarming . . . Auntie Mame-like laughs, lessons and hijinks ensue as Patrick – a once-famous gay sitcom star – deals with a midlife crisis while launching a second act.’

– Boston Spirit

‘A sweet story of family, with plenty of laughs and even a few tears.’

– Parkersburg News and Sentinel

‘Equal amounts of heartache and witty bon mots.’

– Palm Springs Life

‘Influenced by comic dialogue that would make Neil Simon jealous, the novel’s serious undercurrent of loss gives way, in the end, to a warmth that will make readers smile. . . . A funny, gentle tale of family and friends, and a salve for the wounds they often cause.’

– Library Journal

‘Patrick is a memorable character, and it’s genuinely thrilling to read screenwriter-turned-novelist Rowley’s take on the mechanics of stardom. . . . There’s true insight here into the psychology of gay men, Hollywood, and parenting. A novel with some real depth beneath all its witty froth.’

– Kirkus Reviews

‘Heartwarming, hilarious . . . Rowley finds humor and poignancy in the snappy narrative. . . . Readers will find this delightful and illuminating.’

– Publishers Weekly

‘Rowley’s sensitive and witty exploration of grief and healing soothes with a delectable lightness and cunning charm.’

– Booklist

‘Never going too dark, The Guncle is a sweet family story that offers an unexpected yet inevitable ending.’

– BookPage

‘This hilarious and heartfelt story will make you laugh, cry, and want to be a better person.’

– BookRiot

‘One of the hottest beach reads of the year.’

– SheReads

‘Warm and funny . . . [Rowley] continues bringing the hits with this feel-good read that still has depth and meaning.’

– Scary Mommy

‘Beach read alert.’

– PureWow

‘A warm and deeply funny novel . . . With the humour and heart we’ve come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.’

– Frolic

The Guncle is a love letter to the gay uncles (guncles) and their love for their nieces and nephews and will keep the reader entertained from beginning to end. . . . Rowley brilliantly taps into the loss of a loved one and the grieving that comes after.’

– Instinct Magazine

‘The Guncle is a story that deftly balances humor with deep sentimentality. Perfectly folded into the lines of Rowley’s narrative is some of the wittiest banter mixed in with some of life’s most philosophical lessons. . . . Rowley creates a wholesome narrative that digs deep beyond the surface, past the drollery, pulling at heartstrings and keeping the reader hooked with his tactful intuition for a beautifully balanced dramedy.’

– Paperback Paris

‘The Palm Springs-set tale promises plenty of kaftans as well as family drama.’

– NewNowNext

‘A heartwarming story . . . Quirky and fun . . . Light and sassy and warm – like an Aperol spritz atop a pink flamingo floatie. The perfect book for the upcoming summer season.’


‘[A] heartwarming story.’


‘A heartwarming and delightful story of love, loss, and the bonds of family.’

– BookBub

‘Steven Rowley has triumphed again with his new novel The Guncle, an exuberant but tender story about life, death, family, and love. Rowley’s protagonist is a modern-day Auntie Mame with every bit of that unflappable flapper’s sharp wit and fabulous wisdom. This book is a dazzling banquet of laughter and insight; with it Rowley has proven himself to be one of the great comic novelists of our time.’

– Camille Perri, author of The Assistants and When Katie Met Cassidy

‘Patrick, the hero of Steven Rowley’s effervescent, utterly charming, and affecting novel, is the dearest friend you haven’t met yet. You’ll root for his two adorable charges as they navigate a terrible loss, and for Patrick’s own heart to make a long-overdue comeback. A cleverly subversive story about what makes a family.’

– Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

‘Patrick is a famous bon vivant, caftan-wearing gay uncle with a fabulous house in Palm Springs. He’s an unlikely family member to help his niece and nephew work through their feelings of raw grief after their mother dies, but it turns out he’s exactly who the kids need – just as he needs them to help him address his own, less recent loss. Steven Rowley’s assured and moving page-turner is studded with laugh-out-loud humor and moments of profound feeling and insight. This book hit every note on my emotional register, and I savoured it like an Aperol drunk poolside with friends on a hot, desert day.’

– Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home ‘

‘Delightful, sharp, and very funny, The Guncle is the cocktail equivalent of the fourth sip of your martini while you sit poolside at sunset. I loved lingering in this world (and loved reading the dialogue out loud). A novel as much about family and friendship as it is about style and sass, it’s a divine mix of Terms of Endearment and The Birdcage.’

– Timothy Schaffert, author of The Perfume Thief and The Swan Gondola

‘Steven Rowley’s The Guncle is a gift. At once funny, charming and heartbreaking, it’s that rare novel that will have you laughing out loud, even through tears. I have yet to meet a person who did not love this book.’

– Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Good Sister and The Younger Wife

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