A royally original and captivating debut.


In the tradition of Princess Grace and Princess Diana, Bartlett’s heroine is thrust into the spotlight to lead a life both decadent and tragic.

Isabella Cordage was born a minor player in the royal circles of Bisbania, a small mythical country in Europe. Her candor and ease allow her to become the Prince of Gallagher’s closest female confidant. Though her social status makes her an improbable candidate for queen, Isabella manages to stand out amidst a gaggle of royal sycophants and capture the prince’s heart. Now under the scrutiny of paparazzi, who dub her Princess Izzy, Isabella finds that her life has become fodder for the tabloids. And she has one secret: a friendship with an American mechanic many years before her engagement. While attending Yale, Geoffrey performed weekly maintenance on Isabella’s automobile. During the routine car-bomb inspections, the two developed an easy camaraderie, and he introduced her to the poetic lyrics of Bruce Springsteen (hence the title). The couple managed a brief kiss, redolent with romantic possibility, before Isabella returned home. Now positioned to be queen, she worries about a photograph that may have been snapped of this kiss. In order to keep her past a secret and stave off a pre-wedding press bonanza, Isabella decides to buy Geoffrey’s silence, offering him a position at the castle. Though he would never think of extorting Isabella, the lure of financial security and the glamour afforded by living among royalty bring Geoffrey and his young wife to Bisbania. This sets in motion a course of events that leaves the reader frantically flipping pages to solve the fantastic riddles hidden within. Bartlett’s narrative voice is whimsical without ever being absurd; her only fault is her overly ambitious attempt to pull off one too many devastating revelations: Plane crashes, paternity questions and romantic entanglements are more than enough to keep the plot zooming along.

A royally original and captivating debut.

Pub Date: March 23, 2006

ISBN: 0-446-69559-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: 5 Spot/Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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