Slow and relentlessly cloying. The author (The Bishop in the Old Neighborhood, 2005, etc.) has done much better work.


Catholic priest Greeley tells a blarney-drenched tale of Cain and Abel on the Beltway.

The Moran brothers are Irish-Catholic to the core—but there the similarity ends. Father Tony is a priest for whom tolerance is an infallible sign of both weakness and error. Under his surplice beats a heart that’s hard not to think of as un-Christian. On the other hand, his sibling, Tom Cruise look-alike Tommy, a bestselling author and TV celebrity, is all warmth, gentle wit and endless compassion. Between the brothers, smoldering ill feelings flare up when the Illinois Democrats surprise Tommy by asking him to run for the US Senate. This enrages Father Tony: “You can’t be a good, practicing Catholic and be a Democratic senator,” he snarls, capping it with, “And besides you’re out of your depth.” Tommy bears up, reminding himself of a time when he adored his sibling, when they were kids, and husky, athletic Tony was his protection against large, predatory schoolmates. But Tommy’s wife, the brilliant, successful, high-profile and gorgeously red-haired lawyer Mary Margaret, will have none of that. “He has tried to throw a wet blanket on your life,” she informs her husband regularly. Against all political odds, Tommy beats the entrenched incumbent. In the Senate, he performs magnificently, wows all right-thinking observers. “My cute little Irish superhero,” gushes Mary Margaret. When he decides to run for reelection, the gobshites gang up on him. He’s a match for them all, including the ferocious Father Tony, who remains intractable until the end.

Slow and relentlessly cloying. The author (The Bishop in the Old Neighborhood, 2005, etc.) has done much better work.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-765-31591-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2006

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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