A story of the most interesting people you will ever know, told with style and verve.

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GIRL IN THE MOONLIGHT

In Dubow's second novel (Indiscretion, 2013)—pleasingly reminiscent of Maugham and Fitzgerald—our hero narrates a lifetime spent adoring one impossibly beautiful, out-of-reach woman.

Wylie Rose's obsession with Cesca Bonet begins at 9, the day he breaks his arm trying to impress her on her family's East Hampton estate. The novel, set in the last half of the 20th century, spans decades of their lives as they pursue their dreams (in the glamorous way only the very rich can) and slip in and out of love affairs, always returning to each other. Cesca is one of four children born to a New York heiress and a Spanish artist; Wylie's father warns him of the family: "They're beautiful, talented, rich. It's all very seductive. But they're like spoiled children. They'll take everything and give nothing in return." But it's too late—young Wylie is in their thrall. He befriends Cesca's brother Aurelio, who even as a teenager is a talented painter and who nurtures Wylie's dreams of painting and introduces him to the last of the area's fabled abstract expressionists. Out of boredom, Cesca takes Wylie as a lover and casts a spell over him; no other woman can ever compare to her wild, slightly tragic allure. She moves to London, has affairs with rich young men who want to marry her, leaves them, has brief trysts with Wylie, and then moves on, breaking his heart, over and over again. Meanwhile, Wylie becomes an architect, moves to Paris, dates the daughter of a count (weekends at the chateau are lovely) until Cesca calls for him. The novel is a whirlwhind of impossibly chic settings and experiences; the characters know all the right people and do all the right things—Cesca is at Max's Kansas City with Iggy Pop, Aurelio's mentor was friends with Pollock—though to some extent the novel's heavy reliance on character development through association is a weakness. Nevertheless, Dubow offers a heady, intoxicating tale, and young Wylie's journey to manhood is a memorable one.

A story of the most interesting people you will ever know, told with style and verve.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-235832-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

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DEACON KING KONG

The versatile and accomplished McBride (Five Carat Soul, 2017, etc.) returns with a dark urban farce crowded with misjudged signals, crippling sorrows, and unexpected epiphanies.

It's September 1969, just after Apollo 11 and Woodstock. In a season of such events, it’s just as improbable that in front of 16 witnesses occupying the crowded plaza of a Brooklyn housing project one afternoon, a hobbling, dyspeptic, and boozy old church deacon named Cuffy Jasper "Sportcoat" Lambkin should pull out a .45-caliber Luger pistol and shoot off an ear belonging to the neighborhood’s most dangerous drug dealer. The 19-year-old victim’s name is Deems Clemens, and Sportcoat had coached him to be “the best baseball player the projects had ever seen” before he became “a poison-selling murderous meathead.” Everybody in the project presumes that Sportcoat is now destined to violently join his late wife, Hettie, in the great beyond. But all kinds of seemingly disconnected people keep getting in destiny's way, whether it’s Sportcoat’s friend Pork Sausage or Potts, a world-weary but scrupulous white policeman who’s hoping to find Sportcoat fast enough to protect him from not only Deems’ vengeance, but the malevolent designs of neighborhood kingpin Butch Moon. All their destines are somehow intertwined with those of Thomas “The Elephant” Elefante, a powerful but lonely Mafia don who’s got one eye trained on the chaos set off by the shooting and another on a mysterious quest set in motion by a stranger from his crime-boss father’s past. There are also an assortment of salsa musicians, a gentle Nation of Islam convert named Soup, and even a tribe of voracious red ants that somehow immigrated to the neighborhood from Colombia and hung around for generations, all of which seems like too much stuff for any one book to handle. But as he's already shown in The Good Lord Bird (2013), McBride has a flair for fashioning comedy whose buoyant outrageousness barely conceals both a steely command of big and small narrative elements and a river-deep supply of humane intelligence.

An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1672-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS

Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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