With a flavor of Lorrie Moore, graceful, bright, modern writing.


Love, marriage, the whole damn thing—all spanned in a witty, tender first novel.

After three years of marriage, Clark and Charlotte Adair have moved into their first home, “a normal house in a normal place,” paid for by Clark’s mother’s bequest after she committed suicide. Although still in the delighted phase of their relationship, the two have learned enough about each other to sense limits and disappointments. Charlotte, an orphan, fears abandonment above all and wants no children. Clark, “prone to nostalgia,” has been imbued with some of his paranoid mother’s colorful fantasies in lieu of a truer sense of adulthood. The purchase of the yellow house in Clementine is an opportunity for the two to settle down, but what about the rumors that previous owners fled the place? And how to explain the glimpsed figures and overheard voices first noted by Clark, then Charlotte? Gaige’s beguilingly offbeat voice and appealing mix of humor and insight offer continual pleasures, and her story, woven together with that of the house, reaches high. Each chapter follows the discrete shape of a short story while also building on the troubling notion that there are indeed ghosts abroad—not only the seemingly ineradicable spirits at Quail Hollow Road but also the “persona” phantoms that dwell inside Clark and Charlotte. Conventional action is relatively minor: the dog escapes; Clark rescues a boy at the swimming pool and experiences a death rush of exhilaration. But the shifts in mood and the variations in the couple’s power balance are just as telling. After a snowstorm, they have their biggest row, and Clark drives away. In the final pages, Gaige’s usually unerring if unpredictable sense of narrative true north wavers, and chapters become ragged. Despite a final soft-centered swerve, however, the impression overall is of a limpid style and the peeling away of the comedy of intimacy to expose isolated souls.

With a flavor of Lorrie Moore, graceful, bright, modern writing.

Pub Date: May 12, 2005

ISBN: 1-59051-174-3

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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