A beautifully written debut about a woman overcoming grief and finding herself.


A contemporary tale of love and loss. 

Novelist Andee lives in a beach house in California, far enough away from other people that she’s able to enjoy peace and quiet. Just after her 55th birthday, she finds out terrible news: The formerly empty rental house near her home has been leased—for a two-year term. Now, Andee’s morning runs are interrupted by greetings from her new neighbor, Kevin Coultier, no matter how standoffish she acts during each interaction. While on a plane to New York City to visit friends, make stops on a book tour, and sign some contracts, Andee gets a tarot-card reading from the kind girl in the seat next to her, and it causes her to rethink her stance toward her neighbor. Before long, Andee finds herself softening toward Kevin, especially when he cares for her after finding her passed out on the beach following a night of drinking. Soon, they’re running together each morning and spending the Christmas holidays together; she even feels comfortable telling him about the loss of her 19-year-old son years ago. Could this friendship blossom into something more? Debut author Belle offers a lyrical novel about dealing with heartbreak and finding ways to move on. The author’s style is often poetic, bringing life to descriptions of everyday things, such as a jog on the beach: “Today she was again imagining the breeze as a sheer, silky robe that caressed her arms and legs in a beautiful white splendour that only an angel could provide….She didn’t feel like she was running—she was flying along, her feet never touching the sand.” The book is told almost entirely from Andee’s third-person perspective, so the occasional jumps to Kevin’s point of view can feel jarring. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, but it works well as a stand-alone, even offering a satisfying resolution. 

A beautifully written debut about a woman overcoming grief and finding herself.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-4321-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2019

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

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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.


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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