A novel of ideas that suffers from its own good intentions, manipulating a plot that ought to grow more naturally from them.

CONDITIONS OF FAITH

The Australian Miller’s fifth novel but first to appear here: a well-intended but heavy-handed, plot-driven story of a 1920s woman trapped by motherhood.

Emily, a young Australian who impetuously marries much older Georges Elder, a half-Scot, half-French visiting engineer, wants more from life than hometown Melbourne can deliver. Her father wishes she’d continue her studies at Cambridge, in England, but Emily, finished with learning after taking her degree, thinks that marrying Georges, who is heading back to Paris, might be the solution. Georges, however, obsessed with submitting the winning design for a projected bridge in Sydney, doesn’t pay poor Emily enough attention once they’re back in Paris. She grows lonely and discontented, and, on a visit to her mother-in-law in Chartres, is ready for a barely credible seduction by the priest in charge of the bishop’s fruit in the crypt of the cathedral. Naturally, she finds herself pregnant and, naturally, instead of living the liberated life, feels sick and ugly. Another creaky plot turn brings her to Tunisia on vacation, where she meets a team of archeologists excavating the nearby ruins of Carthage and the prison cell of Perpetua, an early Christian martyr. Encouraged by the archeologists, Emily begins research Perpetua’s life. Back in Paris, determined to continue, she heads each day to the library, though pregnancy makes study difficult. Georges is not happy about her new preoccupation, but Emily is determined to persevere and is invited by the archeologists to work with them in Tunisia. First, though, she must give birth to a baby girl and confront the seducing priest, causing complications, though not for long: Emily soon makes the decisions necessary to a woman whose life must prove a point.

A novel of ideas that suffers from its own good intentions, manipulating a plot that ought to grow more naturally from them.

Pub Date: July 18, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-86935-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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