Some lovely meditations on life, death, and the nighttime sky, but the leading ladies remain out of reach, leaving a...

SOMETHING UNPREDICTABLE

A pallid exposé of family- and heart-affairs, from third-timer Chepaitis (These Dreams, 2002, etc.).

At 31, Delilah is a bit old to be living with her parents, but, since she has no clear plan, occupying the spare room in a Key West mansion isn’t so bad a way to waste a year or two. Her waitressing job isn’t fulfilling, and neither is boyfriend Thomas, a photographer sponging off her parents and living in their guest cottage. When her mother Lana, an eccentric activist, accidentally discovers the identity of her own birth mother, it’s decided that Delilah will go to upstate New York to see whether the old woman is amenable to meeting Lana. The trip would also allow Delilah to see best friend Monica, and, more importantly, ex-fiancé Michael. Grandmother Carla lives in a rambling old house that’s filled with circus folk from when she herself was a tiger tamer. Inexplicably, Delilah moves in the day she arrives, even though she and Carla have little interaction and even less conversation (Carla has a grouchy temperament), leaving barely a relationship between the two central characters. Instead, the story shifts to Delilah’s tangled love life: There’s Thomas back home in Key West, interested in Delilah only when he needs her to pose for his wacky photographs; there’s Michael, whose past relationship with Delilah was perfect until she found he was a serial cheater; and then there’s Jack. With an eye-patch and a muscled physique, Carla’s hunky neighbor is smart, funny, and also kind, considering all the home repairs he helps Carla with. Jack is the obvious choice for Delilah’s future happiness—especially when she discovers he’s really Carla’s doctor. But Delilah may still have eyes for Michael, who sort of promises he’s changed his ways.

Some lovely meditations on life, death, and the nighttime sky, but the leading ladies remain out of reach, leaving a predictable tale of true love and identity found.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-3752-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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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

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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