Plain reading: no troubling shadings to complicate or disturb.


A divorced father, fearing the influence of his ruthlessly social-climbing ex, kidnaps his baby daughter and heads to the hills—until his past and the police catch up.

Brilliant lawyer Donald Wolf is a straight-arrow kind of guy and a romantic soul who wants to marry and have kids. An associate in a leading New York firm, he thinks that in Lillian, a legal secretary who loves art, he’s met the perfect woman. While Lillian is curiously reticent about her family and past, Donald is too smitten to ask questions. Nor is he particularly curious when Mr. Buzley, her boss, gives them a lavish wedding gift. Once married, Lillian spends money freely and befriends the rich couple who live in the penthouse. Next she’s dragging Donald to glamorous parties and complaining they don’t have enough money. When she gets pregnant, they decide to take a trip to Italy, where Lillian studied art and where Donald, already tired of Lillian’s greedy ways, learns more about her past—not good—and asks for a divorce. Lillian gives birth to daughter Bettina, and, now married to Mr. Buzley, lives in style. But soon Donald, who sees Bettina regularly in the park with her nanny, learns that Lillian is cheating on Buzley. An accident involving Bettina convinces Donald that life with Lillian would be bad for her, and he so kidnaps the two-year-old, takes a false name, and heads for a small hill-town in Georgia, where years pass, he becomes a respected citizen, and makes himself helpful to ailing farmer Clarence Benson, his pretty wife Kate, and their young son Rick. Aware that the police are looking for him, Donald never leaves town, but his past catches up with him when he goes to Bettina’s college graduation. His life unravels as lies and secrets come to light—but this is Belva Plain (Looking Back, 2001, etc. etc.), and happiness lies ahead.

Plain reading: no troubling shadings to complicate or disturb.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-33472-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet