Once again, Boyd (The Revolution of Little Girls, 1991, etc.) leads her intriguing characters through complex psychological, sexual, and philosophical mazes in this story of a clever southern belle turned radical lesbian, but the author fails to synthesize the parts of her story into a satisfying whole. Ellen Sommers has survived her typically wacko southern upper- class childhood to marry a nice boy from Harvard, land a good job at a small Boston publishing house, and greet the year 1970 with a hefty backlog of such trendy literary successes as Black Black Black and The Terminal Brassiere. But when beautiful artist/heiress Artemis Foote signs up to do an illustrated book, Ellen falls madly in love, follows Artemis back to her California commune, and soon divorces her husband and quits her editorial job. Unable to attach herself to Artemis, Ellen (who now calls herself ``Rain'') instead initiates an affair with Artemis's ex-lover, Jordan, who's on the run after having helped a boyfriend bomb a campus building and is in grief over having abandoned her daughter. When Jordan's whereabouts are discovered by the FBI, she and Rain flee cross- country until Jordan is apprehended and jailed. Rain goes into free-fall, staying for a while in a mental hospital and then moving to L.A., where she writes for TV and engages in cynical sex-only affairs. Just as she begins to find her balance again, Jordan, newly released from prison, commits suicide. Ellen goes into free- fall once more, this time moving in with a suicidal ex-debutante in her hometown of Charleston. A final reunion with Artemis, now middle-aged, gives the two women a chance to reminisce about the passions of their youth. But despite Ellen's stubborn and sympathetic search for meaning in the random turns her life has taken, she remains as clueless as her readers. Boyd's talent for creating convincingly tangled psychological webs is undeniable, but her novels are as unshaped as life itself.

Pub Date: June 16, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-43008-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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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.


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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