Next book


The recent winner of Whitbread Novel Award for 1992, as well as the Guardian Fiction Prize: a witty sendup of the Victorian pantheon as Scottish novelist Gray (Sporting Leather, 1991, etc.) masterfully demolishes those scientific, cultural, and social shibboleths that so comforted our forebears. With invented blurbs and a tongue-in-cheek introduction, Gray immediately signals his intentions to tell a story, refuted later in an epilogue, that's so bizarre that its credibility will be automatically suspect—a story more concerned with highlighting the absurdities of the day than with any reality. Setting the tale in his native Glasgow, Gray purports to be publishing the memoirs of a Victorian doctor, Archibald McCandless, the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer who was befriended by Godwin Baxter, the strange- looking son of an eminent surgeon. Baxter, he soon learns, having removed the brain from the fetus of a recently drowned woman and inserted it in her skull, has brought the young woman back to life. Bella—a prototype Victorian new woman and a female Frankenstein- -falls in love with McCandless, but elopes first with another. Her adventures abroad are suitably picaresque; but as Bella's brain catches up with her physical maturity, she becomes aware of suffering and injustice and decides to become a doctor back in Scotland. Unfortunately, though, she's been recognized as the long- missing and presumed drowned Victoria Blessington. Her wedding to the faithful McCandless is interrupted by the arrival of her mendacious father and sadistic husband, General Sir Aubrey de la Pole Blessington. All eventually ends well—but in the epilogue, seemingly turning the story on its head, the widowed Dr. Victoria McCandless describes the tale as mainly a work of fiction that ``stinks of Victorianism.'' Which is, of course, the whole point. Gray has not only pulled off a stylistic tour de force, but has slyly slipped in a stunning critique of the late-19th-century. A brilliant marriage of technique, intelligence, and art. And, as an extra bonus, lavish illustrations by the author himself.

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-15-173076-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

Next book


Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

Next book


A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Close Quickview