It's agreeable enough, but Schott is no Wodehouse.

JEEVES AND THE LEAP OF FAITH

A NOVEL IN HOMAGE TO P.G. WODEHOUSE

A second Jeeves novel authorized by the Wodehouse estate.

What humorless monster doesn’t love the Jeeves books? These confections feature the English aristocrat Bertie Wooster getting himself into the soup and Jeeves, his “gentleman’s gentleman,” fishing him out again. In a typical story, Bertie gets engaged to the wrong girl, offends a muscular and irascible gentleman, attempts to extricate a pal from a jam, steals a policeman’s helmet or a piece of antique silver as ugly as it is valuable, runs afoul of a stern aunt, and insists on wearing an objectionable garment, and then, with a modest flick of the wrist, Jeeves sets everything right again. Only 11 Jeeves novels and a few dozen short stories are what Bertie might have called the genuine article—written by P.G. Wodehouse himself—but the estate has authorized Schott to expand the canon, and this is his second outing. True to form, Schott’s Bertie spends his time dodging undesirable would-be fiancees, arriving late to meals with Aunt Agatha, masquerading as a clergyman, and climbing the walls of Cambridge University buildings while Jeeves manipulates everything and everyone toward a happy resolution. The greatest pleasure of Wodehouse’s Jeeves books lay in his wordplay: the delicious contrast between Bertie’s breezy Jazz Age slang and Jeeves’ precise formality. Wodehouse’s Jeeves knows more than you do about pretty much everything, but he never needs to show off; it’s part of Wodehouse’s genius to make the reader feel smart. Schott, alas, does the opposite. Unlike Jeeves, who appears at the narrator’s elbow to supply the mot juste exactly—and only—when it’s needed, Schott opens his reference library and shakes it upside down over the text. Schott inserted an element of espionage into his first Jeeves novel, and he continues it here, raising the stakes slightly, which may or may not be what readers want from a Jeeves novel.

It's agreeable enough, but Schott is no Wodehouse.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-54104-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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