Pain, grief, and hurt are all part of life in this moving portrayal of the many forms love can take.

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THE LOVE STORY OF MISSY CARMICHAEL

An isolated, prickly septuagenarian in London who has lost her husband works to overcome her fears that she is a burden to those around her.

Millicent Carmichael—Missy—married the man she loved, Leo, in 1959. But after a half-century of living, loving, and growing older in a huge house in Stoke Newington, London, he is gone, and she is bereft. Her son and grandson, both of whom she dotes on, live more than 9,000 miles away in Australia, and she is recently estranged from her daughter, who lives nearby in Cambridge. Missy is a difficult person with sharp edges—she knows this, her Leo knew this—and she is at loose ends, having lived in a community for all this time without getting to know anyone because she held so tightly to her family she made no time for anyone else. But now, the loneliness is crushing her. A few life-changing moments happen in quick succession: She faints in the park and meets neighbor Sylvie, who kindly sits with her for a bit; her home is robbed while she feigns sleep; and she agrees to do a favor for brusque neighbor Angela—journalist, friend of Sylvie, and single mother to Otis. And so Missy finds herself tending to a vivacious dog of indeterminate breed, Bob, that she neither wanted nor feels capable of taking care of. Debut author Morrey has deftly created a series of love stories, interwoven together and told in snippets through time: Missy’s undying devotion to Leo, despite his—and her—many flaws; her devotion to her children, which she often isn’t able to verbalize; and her growing niche in the community that Bob—her Bobby, her unexpected companion and confidant—introduces her to during their daily walks. There are no saccharine moments to mar this tale.

Pain, grief, and hurt are all part of life in this moving portrayal of the many forms love can take.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-54244-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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