An enjoyable tale of reclamation through time travel.

INHERITING FATE

In this debut novel, a damaged woman seeking to rebuild her life gets drawn into a historical mystery.

McFarland’s protagonist, Cassie McAllister, survived a vicious attack by her ex-husband, James Lancaster, but still bears the physical and mental scars. Since her parents’ recent deaths in a car accident, Cassie is also haunted by a woman’s voice saying “Save her.” Her self-prescribed therapy is to move into and repair an Idaho farmhouse that she inherited. But the home has ghosts, both figurative and literal. In the attic, she discovers the diary of Annie McDonald and gets pulled back into her 1890 world. When Cassie returns to the present, she meets the ghost of Carrington Chambers, Annie’s future husband. Carrington was hung for Annie’s murder, a crime that he didn’t commit. He is a restless spirit who has remained at his former home, refusing to cross over until he finds out the truth about what happened to Annie. He needs Cassie to read Annie’s diary and go back in time to discover the truth about her death. Cassie eventually agrees to help Carrington with his mission despite threats that include Lancaster’s release from prison. In this first installment of her Fate series, McFarland has crafted an admirable heroine in Cassie, who is willing to risk her own life to help Carrington gain some closure. Carrington is also a well-developed character, a twice-convicted murderer in his own time who cares for Cassie’s well-being in the present. This novel manages to be both an intriguing romance and a well-structured mystery, as Cassie tries to uncover who are the friends and foes among Carrington’s acquaintances. But the tale never explains how Carrington manages to maintain a solid physical presence in modern times only to fade away as he gets closer to completing his task. But thanks to the author’s fast-moving narrative, readers are likely to overlook this quibble. What’s more pressing is the increasingly close relationship between Cassie and Carrington, though it seems doomed to be short-lived if they succeed in solving Annie’s murder. What results is a bittersweet and engaging story as Carrington pursues vindication.

An enjoyable tale of reclamation through time travel.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73345-300-4

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Silent K Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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