Gothic goings-on served up without a trace of irony. (First published in England, 1963)



Good brother and bad brother feud on the fells.

Kate Mitchell takes a job as secretary to writer Maurice Rossiter, who lives with his brother Logan and three elderly uncles in a windswept house called Tor-Fret, known for years as the House of Men, since no female could stand its isolation or comprehend the dark doings and vicious quarrels that still seem to echo from every shadowy corner. Yes, the Rossiter men—excepting Logan—were and still are hard-drinking womanizers (the ragged lunatic who skulks around the house is none other than the by-blow of the brothers’ grandfather). Though blessed with masculine beauty, Maurice was always a twisted sort given to consorting with decadent poseurs. But since being stricken with polio, his chief pleasures are whining, driving the servants crazy, and conducting an illicit affair with Logan’s fiancée, Noreen Badcliff. Sharp-eyed Kate witnesses a tryst between the two at the river and looks away when they swim naked together. But who is the bald man watching from above through binoculars? And, later, how did Logan nearly break his neck when out for a walk on the misty fells? Logan, a redoubtable giant of a man, is apparently pretty easy to knock over and never even heard his lunatic half-brother sneaking up on him. Still, Kate falls madly in love with Logan when he rescues her from an assault by her former love Arthur. Her parents cluck and rub their hands, but she makes the long trek to Tor-Fret and finds a knack for overhearing the quarrels and mutterings of its inhabitants. Maurice’s deep dark secret and his reckless dalliance with Noreen lead to tragedy as Logan and Kate are overcome by a gang of village thugs in league with Maurice and left for dead. Yet the sun will rise on a new life for all—this being the late, ever-prolific Cookson.

Gothic goings-on served up without a trace of irony. (First published in England, 1963)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58547-070-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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