THE SEVENTH WIFE

This novel is ambitious only in length, as Moscovit (The Judgment Day Archives, not reviewed) fails to deliver much in the way of character, compelling storylines, or a real reason to keep reading. It follows the wanderings and travails of Anton, an angst-ridden man who has been around the marriage-and-family block a few too many times. As he reminisces about his many exes and tries to reconstruct some sense of who he has been in his life, he works toward something of a resolution with his restless heart. His many children, for whom he has been at best an absent father, are for him a great unresolved collection of relationships that could have been or legacies that have not worked out. For most of the story, Anton is caught up in a quest for something beyond self-pity and a ruinous lifestyle. To him, his former spouses and children are mostly nameless, with ``Wife #1'' and ``Daughter #2.1'' their usual appellations. His characterizations of them, unfortunately, aren't much deeper than these assembly-line names. The only respites from the droning story are Anton's radio commentaries and journal entries, in which he shows a more compelling presence in the world. When Moscovit mercifully puts his protagonist, after 300 pages, in a place where characters have real names and personalities, the story has become too mired in its own one- dimensionality to get moving. The final resolution, in which a wife, children, and wealth unexpectedly come Anton's way, seems like a watered-down reversal of Crime and Punishment rather than a moment that Moscovit truly earns. Fewer wives, fewer children, fewer endless wanderings and, most of all, fewer pages, might have allowed this sometimes interesting author a real chance to shine.

Pub Date: May 5, 1994

ISBN: 1-880909-16-2

Page Count: 466

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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