HOMECOMING

Another intergenerational romance from Bickmore (The Moon Below, 1990, etc.) demonstrating that today's daughters who get it all must thank a generation of mothers who made painful choices to expand women's roles. It's the year South Pacific opened on Broadway. Sydney Hamilton glimpses struggling actor Jordan Eliot across a crowded Manhattan room—she's never seen anyone so handsome before—and Jordan watches Sydney, down from Wellesley, as she shimmies atop a piano, and thinks she's the classiest girl in the world. And why not? She's from one of America's founding families: the well-heeled Hamiltons of Maryland, who have owned the Chesapeake island of Oberon since the 17th century. Against her father's wishes, Sydney marries Jordan—a marriage that produces little Ashley and Juliet. Jordan becomes a major movie star, but Sydney is bored in Hollywood, where she lives only vicariously through her husband. Then, after a disastrous sojourn on a movie set in the Congo, Sydney takes the girls back east to Oberon (Bickmore's version of Tara) and to her family: withholding father, publisher of the highly conservative New York Chronicle; loving mother and grandmother who want more for Sydney; bon vivant Uncle Billy, who knows where a rich girl can get a safe abortion; and Sydney's brother Evan, for whom a legion of bimbos can never fill his sister's shoes. Sydney becomes a successful newspaper publisher, and, as a proponent of a woman's right to choose, she reverses the Chronicle's politics. Meanwhile, Ashley, the good daughter, becomes a veterinarian, as Juliet, angry and troubled, almost kills herself with liquor and drugs. When Evan tries to sell Oberon to developers, Jordan and Sydney, now in their 50s, join forces to keep their Middle Atlantic Bali Hai safe for future generations of Hamiltons and migrating birds. Fresh and inventive romance does battle against a sometimes overbearing political agenda: Jordan and Sydney get back together after Jordan admits that his consciousness has been ``awakened.'' Frankly, everybody, he does give a damn.

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8217-4923-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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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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