Relentless in its intimacy, feverish and yet clinical in its examination of love and lust: a gorgeous solitary romance.

PROMISCUOUS UNBOUND

A hospital stay and morphine drip after a horrendous accident make for an arresting, erotic reverie in this Canadian author’s first.

Who knew hospitals could make a person so horny? Narrator Vivienne Yellow is already in a Paris hospital when the story opens, after having her leg smashed in several places by a truck. Lying in a morphine-induced haze, she drifts through her life—concentrating on the sexual side of things. Only daughter to a womanizing, world-famous naturalist, Vivienne grew up on the road, trekking with her father to the far corners of the world, looking for little-known flora and fauna to catalogue and celebrate. Vivienne emulated his rootless and endlessly promiscuous life, travelling incessantly and racking up an impressive roster of lovers the world over. Things began to come apart for her, though, when she met Ralph, another well-known travelling naturalist, and fell recklessly, desperately in love. Mind, Vivienne’s marriage to another didn’t keep her from continuing her quest for new, disposable lovers; if anything, it accelerated it: “Love came hard for me and was too strange. Must have slept with twenty different men in the first few months of our marriage just to calm myself down.” But, now, the adultery fails to cure her feverish love for Ralph, and Vivienne’s furious jealousy is ignited when she realizes the extent of Ralph’s extracurricular love life. Brian whips all of these elements together and scatters them in a nonchronological fashion throughout the book, leavening Vivienne’s memories with the far-less interesting details of her relationship with wardmate Sonia, “a teenage boarding-school escapee with heart palpitations.” Even if Brian unfortunately distills Vivienne’s life down to a daughter’s clichéd chase after her father’s fleeting form, the poignancy of her language makes the story shine like something new.

Relentless in its intimacy, feverish and yet clinical in its examination of love and lust: a gorgeous solitary romance.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-87113-873-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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