A merry, lighthearted caper.

THE LITTLE OLD LADY WHO BROKE ALL THE RULES

Could prison really be worse than a retirement home? Five senior citizens plan the perfect crime to find out.

Martha Andersson has had it with the prisonlike atmosphere at Diamond House Retirement Home. Bad food, limited coffee, and no exercise spell trouble for this spry old woman. With the help of a generous supply of cloudberry liqueur, she recruits her friends into forming The League of Pensioners, bent on committing a crime worthy of incarceration. Perhaps most helpful for Martha’s purposes: nurse Barbara, the ambitious manager of Diamond House. Barbara has her romantic sights set on Ingmar Mattson, the penny-pinching director of the retirement home, and her eagerness to please him leads to the economizing that pushes Martha and her cronies toward a life of crime in the first place—but when Ingmar sweeps Barbara away, it leaves Martha and her cronies the perfect opportunity to misbehave. Brains sorts out the technical details, while Rake and Christina act as henchmen, and Anna-Greta foots much of the bill. Their victimless jewel and art heists, however, soon implode under a series of unexpected obstacles. Instead of hyperbolic, mustache-twirling villains, Ingelman-Sundberg (The Little Lady Who Struck Lucky Again, 2015, etc.) deftly orchestrates the twists and turns in the plot through the foibles of real life, including an overly zealous housekeeper, a vaguely menacing convict, a lazy pair of crewmen, and police officers whose ageism blinds them to the clues right under their noses. Once caught, the pensioners quickly learn much from their fellow inmates—the next crime will certainly come off without a hitch. The first of the League of Pensioners series translated from the Swedish, Ingelman-Sundberg’s tale captures the rebelliousness percolating just under the surface of ignored, shuffled away elderly folks, although the simplistic prose sounds a bit paternalistic at times.

A merry, lighthearted caper.

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-244797-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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