Lightweight romantic farce, often quite funny, from the British author of For Better, For Worse (2001).


Bad boy bares bum. His girlfriend’s, that is—and it’s a fine sight to see.

Emily Miller (34) was decked out in a teeny-tiny red chiffon Santa suit that left nothing, including her bountiful breasts, to the imagination. No harm in letting her darling Declan O’Donnell, boyfriend of five years, take a snap or two with his new digital camera, was there? And how amusing of him to take a black marker and scribble HO HO HO across her flawless buttocks. She never dreamed that he would post the provocative result online for every lusty lad and wheezing pensioner alive to see. Emily is famous. Too bad the headmaster at the posh school where she teaches has also seen it: the photo has been splashed all over the tabloids, along with a candid shot of her in a tattered blue bathrobe, looking like a council-housing harlot. So she’s fired, and she’s furious. But Declan secretly hopes to make money from the “Saucy Santa” and make it up to Emily somehow, since his dot-com enterprises have all turned out to be dot-bombs. Porn is about the only thing that makes money on the Web these days, so porn it will be. Classy porn. Emily, holed up with flaky girlfriend Cara, has to listen to Cara twitter on about auras and feng shui and other New Age concepts that might help heal her friend’s wounded heart. She even enlists the help of her scruffily handsome colleague, Adam, a photographer for the local Hampstead newspaper that broke the story in the first place. Cara obviously has a crush on Adam—but later, when she happens to get close to the ever-seductive Declan amidst the steam and froth of a hot tub—why, she’s positively blowing bubbles. Then Adam spies Emily across a crowded room and he’s smitten. And it looks as if Emily is smitten right back.

Lightweight romantic farce, often quite funny, from the British author of For Better, For Worse (2001).

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-053214-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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