An enthusiastic engagement of Austen’s juvenilia that will be of interest to her very devoted fans.

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Love and Freindship and Other Delusions

A reimagined version of Jane Austen’s 1790 novella Love and Freindship [sic] complements this partial collection of Austen’s early works.

Andrews’ (The Unforgiving Eye, 2014, etc.) expansion of Austen’s early epistolary tale begins with a new frame story, narrated by a woman named Marianne. In Austen’s original, Marianne only serves as a device to prompt her mother’s friend Laura Lindsay to disgorge a tale of her own bizarre life. Andrews wisely draws Marianne as a fuller character—curious, skeptical, and circumspect—who’d be very much at home in a later Austen novel. (For example, Marianne struggles with doubts about her upcoming marriage.) The story then shifts to the main plot of Austen’s original story, focusing on Laura’s recounting of her youth, starting with her first encounter with her husband, Edward Lindsay. When they meet, Edward is horrified by the idea of marriage to Lady Dorothea, who’s “wealthy and titled” and, worse, meets with his father’s approval. After he and Laura marry instead, their travels take them first to the home of Augustus and Sophia, a young couple who share their devotion to romance and opulence. Laura’s story progresses with absurd coincidences—she meets her never-before-seen grandfather and a few cousins in a single chance encounter—and dramatic turns from which she draws misguided conclusions. Many passages are near verbatim from Austen’s original text, but Andrews’ humor is broader; the expanded tale is peppered with jokes, including one about the house of a family called the MacDonalds, which features “golden arches,” and an allusion to Bridget Jones’s Diary. There are times when this heightened jokiness pays off, as in Laura’s repeated clarification to the widowed Sophia that her own husband lives while “Augustus is still dead.” The rest of the volume consists of Austen’s original text of Love and Freindship and other works of juvenilia. These display Austen’s vacillations between satirical impulses and the psychological observations of her mature writing. However, this section would have benefited from editorial notes; it’s hard not to suspect when reading a long, winking section, for example, on “the art of cutting a slice of cold Beef,” that one is missing a joke.

An enthusiastic engagement of Austen’s juvenilia that will be of interest to her very devoted fans.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crowood Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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