A fine, funny, and deft blue-collar valentine from Bartolomeo (Cupid and Diana, 1998).

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THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS

Can a D.C. publicist find true love with a union organizer? Oh, yes. Twice.

Nicky Malone never really got over her passionate affair with Tony Boltanski, her smart, sexy, and all-around working-class hero. But she broke it off when he didn’t show up for a family wedding—he evidently didn’t realize the event meant so much to her, but he’d got involved with yet another union in dire need of his help, and that was that. Nicky’s been single ever since, despite the best efforts of her favorite cousin Louise, a matchmaker. A rosy-cheeked romantic, Louise believes everyone has a soulmate, even though she’s never found hers. Nicky deplores her taste in men—her latest is a rich jerk who composes morose folksongs—and keeps pointing out that her other cousin, a studly mechanic named Johnny, would be perfect for her even though he’s engaged to someone else. Louise and he should have fallen in love years ago, though Nicky can’t think of a way to make it happen. In the meantime, her widowed mother, a devout Catholic and incessant nag, prays that Nicky will marry soon. The time-is-running-out lectures are getting on Nicky’s nerves, so going to Rhode Island to publicize a nurses’ strike seems like a nice change of pace—until she finds out she’ll be working with Tony. But it’s a good cause. The overworked and underpaid nurses, dedicated professionals all, really need help. Their offices have been sabotaged, and the hospital administration is making them out to be the bad guys for “abandoning” their patients. Nicky and Tony don’t agree on much—she favors a soft sell, he talking tough—but their romance is rekindled. The strike draws to a close and love is in the air. Louise and Johnny finally fall in love, and it’s for keeps. Are Nicky and Tony next?

A fine, funny, and deft blue-collar valentine from Bartolomeo (Cupid and Diana, 1998).

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0461-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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