If all of MacLeod’s debut operated at this level of intuition and eloquence, the novel would be a masterpiece. As it stands,...

READ REVIEW

NO GREAT MISCHIEF

There are many beautiful moments in this limpid and haunting novel, the first full-length fiction from the Canadian author of two highly praised story collections: The Salt Gift of Blood (1998, not reviewed) and the paperback As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1996).

Those titles hint at the lyricism that is MacLeod's special gift—and that flowers impressively as the narrator, Toronto orthodontist Alexander MacDonald, looks wistfully back at the history of his family's emigration from Scotland in the 17th century, the life and legacy of his ancestor `Calum Ruadh` ('red-haired Calum`), Alexander's own upbringing by his doting paternal grandparents (after an accident on a treacherous ice floe takes the lives of his parents and an older brother), and his later relationships with his other surviving brothers, rough-hewn miners whose wayward energies propel them into alcoholism, and even murder. Alexander's vacillations between his sophisticated, comfortable present-day `world` and that of his stoical family are memorably captured in frequent shifts between present and past. These give the tale a marvelous variety and color; but redundant contrasts between the romantic-chaotic “then` and the drab `now` (frequently spelled out in lax conversations between Alexander and his twin sister) only make us impatient to return to the MacDonald clan's earlier days. The retold family stories are without exception gripping and quite moving, and are graced by stunning little gasps and leaps of felicitous phrasing (for example, at the funeral of a brother killed in a mine accident, Alexander muses `On the last day of his life he had been deeper in the earth than he now reposed in death`).

If all of MacLeod’s debut operated at this level of intuition and eloquence, the novel would be a masterpiece. As it stands, it confirms his reputation as one of Canada's most sensitive and stylish writers of fiction.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-393-04970-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more