ESCAPE

A corporate attorney leaves her Manhattan cubicle for a small New Hampshire town, where she faces an agonizing choice.

Emily’s enervating job at a prestigious law firm is only a higher-paying version of a hectic call center. She sees little of her husband, James, who is immersed in his own 12-hour-a-day struggle to make partner in a similar firm. The couple is too exhausted to enjoy the spoils of their labors assisting corporations to further crush the poor and downtrodden. Their love life is strictly scheduled around Emily’s fertile periods, to no avail, baby-wise. One day Emily just snaps, runs out on her life and heads for the last place she remembers feeling relaxed: Bell Valley, where her college roommate’s family runs a massive animal shelter, the Refuge. Nothing much has changed in Bell Valley when Emily arrives, other than the fact that her one-time roomie, Vicki, now owns the Red Fox, a B&B. Vicki’s brother, Jude, Emily’s first love, has been absent for a decade, traveling the world. Emily fled Bell Valley, she thought forever, when Jude broke up with her and impregnated his ex-girlfriend. Emily has received sporadic dispatches from Jude, the last from a crab boat in the Bering Sea. His dreaded return to Bell Valley, accompanied by the coyote that appears to be his spirit guide (and rapidly becomes Emily’s), once again discomfits feminine hearts, including Vicki’s—she resents Jude for being the prodigal son family matriarch Amelia welcomes home while taking vineyard-toiling Vicki for granted. James, stunned by Emily’s defection, is trying to woo her back, but not quite ready to abandon Manhattan. Emily finds contentment in working with rescue cats and pitting her legal skills against power and greed (for a change). An improbable subplot involving Red Fox employee Lee, defrauded of her inheritance, is intended to inject thrills but falls far short of replacing the more essential conflicts Delinsky simply ducks. Arid stretches of boredom ensue.

No escapism here.

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53272-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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