Women readers (and what male would read this book?) will want to strangle Linc by his story’s self-congratulatory end.


A first novel whose self-impressed narrator takes on househusbanding with a vengeance and makes a better wife and mother than any woman could.

When his wife Jo accepts a job as a hospital administrator, landscape architect Linc Menner moves with her and their three-year-old daughter, Violet, from California to Rochester, New York. Having agreed to stay home with Violet until he makes his next career move, Linc immediately becomes that supermom most real housewives and mothers hate. He is a wonderful cook, as the recipes included at the end of several chapters seem intended to prove. He keeps the house immaculately clean, cleaner than the average housewife does (as he more than once says with some pride), and he fills the high-ceilinged, many-windowed rooms of the house with plants. (Cynical readers may wonder about astronomical heating bills for those curtainless rooms in upstate New York, but money never becomes an issue in this family.) Precocious, adorable, and beautifully behaved Violet is proof of Linc’s extraordinary parenting skills since, as he points out, Jo has little input. Linc does miss adult companionship—especially since the other stay-at-home moms shun him for being a man—until he becomes friends with his neighbor Marilyn. Although she’s attractive and obviously attracted to him, he stays loyal to Jo, who appreciates Linc’s domestic efforts even while she does resent them a little. Besides, Marilyn lets her kids eat junk food and watch too much TV, issues about which the much more strict Linc is a stickler. In fact, the first hint that the new babysitter is evil occurs when she commits the unpardonable sin of giving Violet a Malibu Barbie. Linc struggles to maintain his masculinity as he identifies increasingly with the wives and mothers in his life. He succeeds, naturally, with Jo’s second pregnancy emerging as the physical proof.

Women readers (and what male would read this book?) will want to strangle Linc by his story’s self-congratulatory end.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-345-45126-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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