Family reveals its true nature when love and money are involved.

The curious story of a necklace connects two generations of women.

Nell Quincy Merrihew has always felt out of step with the Quincy side of her family. Living across the country from them seemed like the proper amount of distance. But when her eccentric great-aunt Loulou passes away, Nell joins the rest of the clan in dealing with the estate. To her family’s discomfort, Nell has been named executor of the will. Making things even more complicated, Nell has inherited a valuable and controversial necklace. While Nell had expected something elegant, the necklace is chunky, odd, and in bad condition from spending years stuffed in an old whiskey bag. Though family members initially deem it tacky, the necklace becomes far more interesting when they learn it contains a sapphire thought stolen from the maharajah of Baroda. The novel’s second storyline goes to establishing the jewel’s provenance. The necklace, brought back from India by Ambrose Quincy in the 1920s, was meant to be a gift to his beloved, May. But while Ambrose was traveling around the world, a tragic accident left his brother, Ethan, severely injured. By the time Ambrose returns home, he discovers that May and Ethan have married. Despite the look of impropriety, Ambrose gives the necklace to May and relishes watching her wear it, a jeweled centerpiece far more prominent than her own wedding ring. As the novel shifts in time, Quincy secrets and scandals are brought to the surface. For Ambrose, Ethan, and May, a painful love triangle begins to emerge. For Nell, she begins to feel the full pressure and politics of being a Quincy. With an expansive cast of vivid characters—from Pansy, Nell's class-obsessed cousin, to Louis Morrell, Loulou's sometimes-overeager estate lawyer—McMillan (Gilded Age, 2012) weaves a complex and compelling narrative that balances intensity and levity. Written with wit, compassion, and a meticulous attention to period and cultural detail, the novel is satisfying for those seeking a romance, a historical drama, or a rags-to-riches tale.

Family reveals its true nature when love and money are involved.

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6504-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017


The Brat Pack meets The Bacchae in this precious, way-too-long, and utterly unsuspenseful town-and-gown murder tale. A bunch of ever-so-mandarin college kids in a small Vermont school are the eager epigones of an aloof classics professor, and in their exclusivity and snobbishness and eagerness to please their teacher, they are moved to try to enact Dionysian frenzies in the woods. During the only one that actually comes off, a local farmer happens upon them—and they kill him. But the death isn't ruled a murder—and might never have been if one of the gang—a cadging sybarite named Bunny Corcoran—hadn't shown signs of cracking under the secret's weight. And so he too is dispatched. The narrator, a blank-slate Californian named Richard Pepen chronicles the coverup. But if you're thinking remorse-drama, conscience masque, or even semi-trashy who'll-break-first? page-turner, forget it: This is a straight gee-whiz, first-to-have-ever-noticed college novel—"Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally thought to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petri dish of melodrama and distortion." First-novelist Tartt goes muzzy when she has to describe human confrontations (the murder, or sex, or even the ping-ponging of fear), and is much more comfortable in transcribing aimless dorm-room paranoia or the TV shows that the malefactors anesthetize themselves with as fate ticks down. By telegraphing the murders, Tartt wants us to be continually horrified at these kids—while inviting us to semi-enjoy their manneristic fetishes and refined tastes. This ersatz-Fitzgerald mix of moralizing and mirror-looking (Jay McInerney shook and poured the shaker first) is very 80's—and in Tartt's strenuous version already seems dated, formulaic. Les Nerds du Mal—and about as deep (if not nearly as involving) as a TV movie.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1992

ISBN: 1400031702

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992



The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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