Next book

SWIMMING LESSONS

Simmering with tension, this tragic, albeit imperfect, mystery is sure to keep readers inching off their seats.

A forsaken family bound by grief still struggles to pick up the pieces 12 years after their mother’s death.

When famous author Gil Coleman sees “his dead wife standing on the pavement below” from a bookshop window in a small town on the southern coast of England, he follows her, but to no avail, and takes a near-fatal fall off a walkway on the beach. As soon as they hear word of his accident, Gil’s grown daughters, Nan and Flora, drop everything and return to their seaside family home in Spanish Green. Though her father’s health is dire, Flora, Gil’s youngest, can’t help but be consumed by the thought that her mother, Ingrid—who went missing and presumably drowned (though the body was never found) off the coast more than a decade ago—could be alive, wandering the streets of their town. British author Fuller’s second novel (Our Endless Numbered Days, 2015) is nimbly told from two alternating perspectives: Flora’s, as she re-evaluates the loose ends of her mother’s ambiguous disappearance; and Ingrid’s, through a series of candid letters she writes, but never delivers, to Gil in the month leading up to the day she vanishes. The most compelling parts of this novel unfold in Ingrid’s letters, in which she chronicles the dissolution of her 16-year marriage to Gil, beginning when they first meet in 1976: Gil is her alluring professor, they engage in a furtive love affair, and fall into a hasty union precipitated by an unexpected pregnancy; Gil gains literary fame, and Ingrid is left to tackle motherhood alone (including two miscarriages); and it all bitterly culminates in the discovery of an irrevocable betrayal. Unbeknownst to Gil and his daughters, these letters remain hidden, neglected, in troves of books throughout the house, and the truth lies seductively within reach. Fuller’s tale is eloquent, harrowing, and raw, but it’s often muddled by tired, cloying dialogue. And whereas Ingrid shines as a protagonist at large, the supporting characters are lacking in depth.

Simmering with tension, this tragic, albeit imperfect, mystery is sure to keep readers inching off their seats.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-941040-51-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 37


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 37


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Next book

FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

Close Quickview