A friendly summer read that manages to rise above the lighter-than-air comic fluff that terminally inflates many another...

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GETTING OVER IT

Yet another London career girl looks for fulfillment, though newcomer Maxted’s narrator has enough endearing charm to make her stand out from the rest of the Bridget Jones clones.

When she begins her story, 26-year-old Helen Bradshaw is relatively happy as an assistant at a woman’s magazine, flatmate to sweet Luke and sexy Marcus, and center of a close-knit circle of girlfriends. But when her father suddenly dies of a heart attack, Helen spends the rest of the year (and the novel) “getting over it”—a flippant suggestion offered far more easily than achieved. At first Helen seems a pillar of strength, comforting her increasingly withdrawn and suicidal mother and moving on with her own life in quick time. The personal blunders Helen continually makes, however, suggest unresolved grief and conflicted feelings about a father who was distant in the best of times. It’s a lot to handle, especially for a girl who’s engaged in a colossal fight with Marcus (with whom she regrettably slept in a moment of weakness), the romantic pursuit of Tom (who always catches Helen at her very worst moments), and a struggle over what to do about her friend Tina, whose perfect boyfriend is beating up on her. It’s a wonder Helen makes it to work in the morning—though once there she assiduously avoids working. All this drama is conveyed in the lightest manner, with an overload of hip references (Fox Mulder and Quentin Tarantino turn up on the same page), and seesaws between annoying and entertaining. Finally, though, Helen’s plight succeeds in winning the reader’s sympathy, the slight and the heartfelt strike a companionable balance, and by the end all hopes are for our heroine’s happiness.

A friendly summer read that manages to rise above the lighter-than-air comic fluff that terminally inflates many another Bridget Jones wannabe—by now a genre all its own.

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-039320-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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