A quiet tale of love and vengeance.

A BEAST IN PARADISE

A farm engulfs the lives of two women.

When their parents are killed in a car accident, 5-year-old Blanche and her 3-year-old brother, Gabriel, are taken in by their grandmother Émilienne and grow up on her farm, Paradise, in northern France. In a spare, somber family saga, award-winning poet and fiction writer Coulon traces the fortunes of the taciturn Émilienne, devoted to the land, and Blanche, “a warrior at five years old,” whose love of Paradise impels her to become “her grandmother’s shadow, casting aside her grief in favor of Émilienne’s robust self-discipline.” Walking before she could talk, the young Blanche seemed always “overflowing with movement, as if an older child were hidden inside her, waiting for the right moment to blossom.” That moment comes when she accedes to the attentions of her charming classmate Alexandre. Coulon’s poetic cadence and lyrical prose, ably served by translator Kover, give the tale the quality of a fable in which uncontrollable desires, nature’s capricious power, and violent anger and deceit erupt into a pitiless landscape. Coulon captures the visceral cruelty of farm life, where the stench of pigs’ blood lingers for days after the animals are slaughtered and entrails litter the soil. Everyone reveals an essential bestiality: Even Gabriel, a quiet, dreamy boy, grows into a man with “something of the animal about him, an animal sick with sadness and timidity.” Humans, like beasts, labor endlessly, “the industrious angels of this Paradise of mud and beaks and manure.” For the arduous challenges of farm work, brute strength is not “an option but a necessity.” Alexandre, though, determined to escape the harsh demands of the land and the claustrophobia of rural life, chooses to seek his fortune in the city—a decision that comes to ravage the lives of everyone in Paradise.

A quiet tale of love and vengeance.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60945-647-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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