No one, and no relationship, is perfect in this story, which embraces the messiness of love and life.

THE JETSETTERS

A lonely 71-year-old widow wins a trip to Europe and takes her three grown children in an attempt to reconnect with them.

One-time mediocre realtor and long-time widow Charlotte Perkins lives in Savannah, Georgia. When her best friend dies, she realizes just how lonely she has become and how she has lost touch with her grown children, two of whom refuse to speak to each another. Charlotte believes that her eldest daughter, Lee, is an actress on the cusp of success in Los Angeles; that her son, Cord, is a successful venture capitalist in New York City waiting to find the right woman; and that her youngest, Regan, is a happily married stay-at-home mother of two. She doesn’t know that Lee is in massive debt, cannot find work, and is living in a La Quinta hotel; that Cord is a struggling-to-stay-sober alcoholic who is happily engaged to a man he adores; and that Regan dreams of murdering her detested husband, whom she regrets marrying after her sister broke his heart. Charlotte herself is not the pious Catholic church lady everyone thinks she is—she is desperate to find a man, have sex, and live out the naughty pages of her romance books. Everyone in the family is adept at hiding their emotions and themselves from one another. Charlotte hopes to bring them all together again by entering a contest for a cruise through Europe. And she wins. Author Ward (The Nearness of You, 2017, etc.) has created a complex story that explores the tragedies and long-term effects of withheld love, verbal abuse, alcoholism, and depression on individuals and their families, set against the backdrop of a splendidly gaudy, over-the-top Mediterranean cruise ship and its historic ports of call. Open, optimistic, caring, romantic, and thoughtful Giovanni—Cord’s fiance—is a highlight of the book.

No one, and no relationship, is perfect in this story, which embraces the messiness of love and life.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-18189-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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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