A quick and likable, though not much more, hardcover debut: a good airplane book.

EXIT STRATEGIES

Love, money, a cranky teenaged daughter, and an even crankier octogenarian mother are but a few of the problems facing a recent (at fortysomething) law school grad.

A younger heroine might have fallen prey to Bridget Jones plotting, but Miss Jones never had to worry about her mother’s hip replacement surgery. Nevertheless, Becky Weston, struggling to earn respect as a new associate at her law firm (it doesn’t help that she spent the previous six years there as a receptionist) and fighting the crush she has on her dashing boss are familiar takes on the single-woman-makes-good theme—though Becky, older and wiser, spends less time worrying about the size of her thighs and more about the size of her kids’ college fund. Warned that she’ll need to start accruing billable hours at the firm, Becky suddenly finds herself with the famous Bobbie Crystol, anti-aging guru, as a client. Long-ago college acquaintances who still have little love for each other, Becky wonders why Bobbie would choose an inexperienced lawyer like herself to guide a million-dollar fountain-of-youth empire. Other mysteries are afoot as Becky’s ex-husband’s widow Carole (the trustee of her children’s inheritance) suddenly claims a substantial loss in the trust, while, inexplicably, Becky keeps running into her ex-therapist, a kindly man always around at just the right time. In this amiable, if not particularly compelling narrative, Becky’s life gets a lot worse before it gets better: nursing homes, financial fraud, life-threatening quackery—and more—rear their ugly heads before Becky manages to put the seemingly disparate pieces of her life’s disorder together. The Cinderella ending, though, is a bit more than the story needs.

A quick and likable, though not much more, hardcover debut: a good airplane book.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-095348-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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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

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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