A novel with rewards for patient and sympathetic readers.

THE BUTTERFLY LAMPSHADE

The author revisits themes she explored in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) in her latest novel.

When Francie is 8 years old, her mother, Elaine, suffers a psychotic break. Elaine's struggles with mental health are nothing new, but this episode is severe enough that Elaine is institutionalized and Francie is sent from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles to live with her Aunt Minn, her Uncle Stan, and their new baby, Vicky. Twenty years later, Francie is still living in LA. She’s managing a frame store, but she spends her free time scouring yard sales for odd treasures she can sell online. Her relationship with her adopted family is solid, if fraught—Minn and Vicky are always looking for signs of Elaine’s illness in Francie. Her relationship with her mother—maintained by phone and occasional visits—depends largely on how well Elaine’s medications are working. As she begins to revisit and work through what happened when she was 8, Francie withdraws from the world beyond this small circle. A reader’s capacity to appreciate this novel will depend on how much time they're willing to spend inside Francie’s head. Francie is smart and interesting. She is an engaging protagonist. And she notes—or it feels like she notes—every single detail of every encounter she has. Sentences like “At some point, Vicky got up to wipe down the table, and I watched all the last pieces of rice and blueberries connect to her sponge and gather together to fall into her hand” take up a whole lot of the first half of the novel. But the reader who sticks with this glacial pace will realize that Francie notices everything because her survival depended on noticing everything when she was a child. By the end, the book reveals itself as a meditation on memory, identity, and the sometimes-uncanny relationship between living beings and the inanimate world.

A novel with rewards for patient and sympathetic readers.  

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-53487-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 56

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more