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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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines—but it never falls from the sky.

GREAT CIRCLE

The intertwined journeys of an aviatrix born in 1914 and an actress cast to play her a century later.

In a novel twice as long as and an order of magnitude more complex than the well-received Seating Arrangements (2012) and Astonish Me (2014), Shipstead reveals breathtaking range and skill, expertly juggling a multigenerational historical epic and a scandal-soaked Hollywood satire, with scenes playing out on land, at sea, and in the air. "We were both products of vanishment and orphanhood and negligence and airplanes and uncles. She was like me but wasn't. She was uncanny, unknowable except for a few constellations I recognized from my own sky": These are the musings of actress Hadley Baxter. She has been familiar with the story of Marian Graves, an aviatrix who disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe, since she was just a little girl—before she became a pop-culture phenomenon, turned into a movie star with a mega-franchise, accidentally destroyed her career, and was given the chance to reinvent herself...by playing Marian in a biopic. The film, Peregrine, is based at least partly on the logbook of Marian's "great circle," which was found wrapped in a life preserver on an ice floe near the South Pole. Shipstead's story begins decades earlier, with the christening of the Josephina Eterna in Glasgow in 1909. The unhappy woman who breaks the bottle on her bow, the laconic captain who takes the ship to sea, the woman he beds onboard, the babies that result from this union—Marian Graves and her twin, Jamie—the uncle who has to raise them when their mother drowns and their father disappears: The destinies of every one of these people, and many more unforgettable characters, intersect in ways that reverberate through a hundred years of story. Whether Shipstead is creating scenes in the Prohibition-era American West, in wartime London, or on a Hollywood movie set, her research is as invisible as it should be, allowing a fully immersive experience.

Ingeniously structured and so damn entertaining; this novel is as ambitious as its heroines—but it never falls from the sky.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65697-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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