Imagine The Sound of Music for big girls, flavored with a dash of Mad Men bitters.

A pair of fugitives—one from pre-Nazi Europe, the other from the U.S. Senate Chamber (correction: bedchamber)—meet over a rare 1936 Mercedes Roadster that transports first one, then the other out of a god-awful fix.

With the killer charm of a Rogers and Hammerstein score and a touch of DuMaurier intrigue, Williams’ latest sexy and enthralling period drama (on the high heels of Tiny Little Thing, 2015, etc.) draws readers into the parallel, luxe worlds of two sparky women in the post-Camelot 1960s: Annabelle Dommerich, a 40-ish widow with a passel of grown stepchildren, who conceals her Baroness title and much else about her past as the mistress of a Jewish resistance agent and wife of a German high-command general (to whit: “whether one man could keep you safe from wanting another”); and Pepper Schuyler, the smart-alecky aide to a powerful politician, who’s hard-put to conceal just one secret—the identity of the man responsible for the baby bump beneath her Lilly Pulitzer shift: “I always thought the more, the merrier. Sex and cigarettes.” (Fans of Williams’ novels will recognize Pepper as the best-dressed and sharpest tongued of the three fictional Schuyler sisters.) The two ladies strike up an irresistible womance when Annabelle shows up at the Breakers in Palm Beach to collect the vintage car Pepper restored then put up at a collectors’ auction so she wouldn't have to accept “help” from the father of her baby or her socially prominent (and often comically obtuse) parents. Gliding up the coast of Georgia in that leather-seated roadster toward the beautifully appointed seaside cottage the Baroness has offered Pepper as a safe house, they’ll spill all their secrets and sorrows and help each other reclaim lost pieces of their hearts.

Imagine The Sound of Music for big girls, flavored with a dash of Mad Men bitters.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17131-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015



A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Norwegian novelist Jacobsen folds a quietly powerful coming-of-age story into a rendition of daily life on one of Norway’s rural islands a hundred years ago in a novel that was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Ingrid Barrøy, her father, Hans, mother, Maria, grandfather Martin, and slightly addled aunt Barbro are the owners and sole inhabitants of Barrøy Island, one of numerous small family-owned islands in an area of Norway barely touched by the outside world. The novel follows Ingrid from age 3 through a carefree early childhood of endless small chores, simple pleasures, and unquestioned familial love into her more ambivalent adolescence attending school off the island and becoming aware of the outside world, then finally into young womanhood when she must make difficult choices. Readers will share Ingrid’s adoration of her father, whose sense of responsibility conflicts with his romantic nature. He adores Maria, despite what he calls her “la-di-da” ways, and is devoted to Ingrid. Twice he finds work on the mainland for his sister, Barbro, but, afraid she’ll be unhappy, he brings her home both times. Rooted to the land where he farms and tied to the sea where he fishes, Hans struggles to maintain his family’s hardscrabble existence on an island where every repair is a struggle against the elements. But his efforts are Sisyphean. Life as a Barrøy on Barrøy remains precarious. Changes do occur in men’s and women’s roles, reflected in part by who gets a literal chair to sit on at meals, while world crises—a war, Sweden’s financial troubles—have unexpected impact. Yet the drama here occurs in small increments, season by season, following nature’s rhythm through deaths and births, moments of joy and deep sorrow. The translator’s decision to use roughly translated phrases in conversation—i.e., “Tha’s goen’ nohvar” for "You’re going nowhere")—slows the reading down at first but ends up drawing readers more deeply into the world of Barrøy and its prickly, intensely alive inhabitants.

A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77196-319-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020


A captivating story of a complicated woman blazing new trails.

One of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen, Hedy Lamarr also designed a secret weapon against Nazi Germany.

In her latest portrayal of a lesser-known woman scientist, Benedict (The Other Einstein, 2016, etc.) spins the tale of Lamarr, born Hedwig Kiesler, from her late teens in Austria through her success in Hollywood. Born to Jewish parents in a posh Vienna neighborhood, Hedy endures her mother’s criticism while following her father’s encouragement to pursue both science and acting. Although she finds early success with the risqué Ecstasy, the film’s nudity haunts her efforts to be taken seriously. Just as she achieves the respect of her peers as a stage actress, Hedy catches the eye of Fritz Mandl, a wealthy, charismatic older man who owns several munitions factories. Rumored to have mistreated his former mistresses and to be in league with the fascist (albeit anti-Nazi) Austrian Christian Social Party, Fritz determines to wine, dine, and wed Hedy. Once married, however, Hedy finds herself virtually imprisoned and often abused by her jealous husband. Yet Hedy proves invaluable to Fritz when she begins to gather secret information from their well-connected, politically ambitious house guests. After all, who would suspect such a beautiful woman of understanding military secrets? Yet as Germany and Italy begin to join forces against Austria, Hedy discovers just how mercenary Fritz can be. A daring escape leads Hedy to America, where she vows never to be under another man’s thumb. Once out of Fritz’s reach, Hedy not only returns to acting, but also embarks on a new career as an inventor. Remembering the sensitive information carelessly revealed at Vienna dinner parties, she develops a brilliant radio-communication device. But will the American Navy accept such a weapon from a woman?

A captivating story of a complicated woman blazing new trails.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6686-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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