The Revolution’s successive upheavals form an engrossing backdrop to Gabrielle’s predicament, but she’s too timid a...



A noblewoman suffers several close brushes with the guillotine during the French Revolution in this debut novel from Delors.

Gabrielle, from a noble family in Auvergne, sees her ancestral château for the first time at age 11, after she’s removed from convent boarding school by her brother, the Marquis de Montserrat. Her mother, whom she hardly knows, is cold and hypercritical, and as Gabrielle matures, her brother makes incestuous overtures to her. While visiting her former wet nurse, a peasant woman, Gabrielle falls in love with Pierre-André, a young doctor. The Marquis forbids her to wed Pierre-André because he is a commoner. Instead, when she turns 15, her family forces her to marry middle-aged Baron de Peyre, who proves a volatile, brutal husband. When he dies suddenly, leaving Gabrielle a pittance, she flees with daughter Aimée to Paris, where she finds refuge with a distant cousin, a duchess who introduces her to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Gabrielle becomes the mistress of the Count de Villers, who keeps her in grand style but often displays a cruel streak. When the Revolution begins, and Villers is killed defending the Tuileries Palace, Gabrielle is imprisoned, but acquitted by a peoples’ court. Meanwhile, Pierre-André, now a lawyer, has become an influential magistrate under the new regime, and remains so throughout the various power shifts of the Revolution, while his contemporaries are losing their heads. Gabrielle seeks his help in procuring identity documents falsifying her aristocratic past, and the two rekindle their romance. Gabrielle is again arrested when her employer, whose advances she spurns, informs on her. Pierre-André secures her release and obtains his mentor Robespierre’s blessings for the relationship. But a sudden reversal of Robespierre’s political fortunes leaves Pierre-André and Gabrielle at the mob’s mercy. Delors, who was born in France, writes competently in English, but at times her prose reads like a stilted translation.

The Revolution’s successive upheavals form an engrossing backdrop to Gabrielle’s predicament, but she’s too timid a protagonist to command center stage.

Pub Date: March 13, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-95054-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?