Sackville writes like a dream (in all senses), conveying both the uncanny power of love and the inscrutable heartbreak of...

READ REVIEW

ORKNEY

A lyrical novel heavy with mythological overtones.

Richard, a professor of Romantic and Victorian literature, has just taken a bride 40 years his junior. For their honeymoon, she wants to go somewhere—anywhere—by the sea, so she closes her eyes, sticks a pin on a map and opens them to find she’s “chosen” a remote island off northern Scotland. Coincidentally, this is near the area where she was born, but when Richard presses her about her family and her childhood, she becomes distant and elusive. Richard’s particular area of academic interest and expertise is folklore, especially phantasmic and elusive women like La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Undine and Vivien (lover of Merlin). Richard’s wife, who remains unnamed, also seems to partake of this spectral reality, for even though she’s 21, she has pure white hair and a wraithlike appearance. The novel chronicles the roughly two weeks of their honeymoon, as Richard finds himself alternately bewitched and puzzled by his new wife, who spends much of her time watching the tempestuous sea even though she’s afraid of its power and can’t swim. She’s also haunted almost nightly by vivid and disturbing dreams of water and being drowned. Although Richard could not be characterized as blissfully happy, he is deeply in love with his enigmatic wife. At the end of their honeymoon, however, the inevitable happens—she disappears mysteriously, seemingly absorbed back into the natural world which she’s both alienated from and attracted to.

Sackville writes like a dream (in all senses), conveying both the uncanny power of love and the inscrutable heartbreak of loss.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61902-119-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more