A well-told tale of love and jealousy: good characters and a strong narrative voice.

READ REVIEW

THE ART OF SEEING

A first novel from storywriter McGovern (a Nelson Algren Award winner), sister of actress Elizabeth McGovern, depicts the strained affection between a successful actress and her younger sibling.

Rozzie was a bright kid whom everyone knew would go on to big things. Attractive, vivacious, and outgoing, she was well liked by all—and idolized by her younger sister Jemma, who managed to trade on her sister’s popularity to boost her own. In high school, Rozzie joined the drama society and became such a success that she was encouraged to make a career of acting. Eventually, while still in her teens, she was offered a movie role and quit school to go to Hollywood. This, of course, put Jemma in even greater awe of her. By no means a wallflower, Jemma was nevertheless a thoroughly normal American schoolgirl—she joined the photography club, worked part-time at the local grocery, had crushes on boys—and the thrill of having a movie star in the family was immense, especially when Rozzie would fly Jemma out to locations and let her hobnob with the cast. Unfortunately, Rozzie’s luck is short-lived, and she begins to suffer a loss of eyesight not long after her first flush of success. A series of operations fails, and she is soon nearly blind. By this time Jemma has gone to art school and taken up photography as her (somewhat precarious) career. Although she and Rozzie have had their tensions in the past, they remain on good terms in spite of some submerged resentment in Jemma of her sister’s easy success. But when Jemma is offered a lot of money by a supermarket tabloid for some pictures she secretly took of Rozzie after she had lost her sight, the temptation proves very great. Would it be sleazy to advance her career on her sister, or just good business sense? Blood is thicker than water, after all, but the real world can be a strangely bloodless place.

A well-told tale of love and jealousy: good characters and a strong narrative voice.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2002

ISBN: 0-7432-2835-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more