Next book

SWIMMING IN PARIS

A LIFE IN THREE STORIES

No pulled punches here, just truth.

Insight into a Frenchwoman’s life from the woman who lived it.

Colombe Schneck, the narrator of each of these three assembled novellas, engages in a careful dissection of various stages of her life. That the book’s author is also named Colombe Schneck provides some clue as to how close to the bone Schneck is cutting here. In Seventeen, she parses the inevitability of biology and the shock of betrayal by one’s own body (and the results of an unplanned teen pregnancy). Friendship explores a lifelong friendship between Colombe and Héloïse, allowing Schneck to examine, in subtle detail, the ethnic, class, and political differences between bourgeois households during the girls’ formative years in 1970s and ’80s Paris. A different kind of bodily betrayal is visited upon Héloïse in the account. Schneck’s last remembrance, Swimming: A Love Story, recounts an affair Colombe embarks on after a season of romantic disenchantment. Among the other gifts Gabriel bestows upon her during the course of their relationship is an awareness of her body (and the development of a sense of autonomy over it). Repeatedly, the inevitability of life’s unpredictability is made clear to Colombe, but it is only with later-acquired self-awareness that she is able to continue in the face of her doubts and emotional discomfort. Translated from French by Elkin and Lehrer, Schneck’s matter-of-fact delivery of all aspects of her lived experiences—from a comparison of the Parisian apartments favored by the bourgeoisie to her panic at uncertainty—lends a universal quality to the narrative; these observations made by one woman are broadly recognizable. Acknowledging the influence of Annie Erneaux on her thinking and her ability to write about issues intensely personal to women, Schneck carries that frank discussion forward with grace and hard-won knowledge.

No pulled punches here, just truth.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9780593655931

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 56


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 56


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Next book

JAMES

One of the noblest characters in American literature gets a novel worthy of him.

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as told from the perspective of a more resourceful and contemplative Jim than the one you remember.

This isn’t the first novel to reimagine Twain’s 1885 masterpiece, but the audacious and prolific Everett dives into the very heart of Twain’s epochal odyssey, shifting the central viewpoint from that of the unschooled, often credulous, but basically good-hearted Huck to the more enigmatic and heroic Jim, the Black slave with whom the boy escapes via raft on the Mississippi River. As in the original, the threat of Jim’s being sold “down the river” and separated from his wife and daughter compels him to run away while figuring out what to do next. He's soon joined by Huck, who has faked his own death to get away from an abusive father, ramping up Jim’s panic. “Huck was supposedly murdered and I’d just run away,” Jim thinks. “Who did I think they would suspect of the heinous crime?” That Jim can, as he puts it, “[do] the math” on his predicament suggests how different Everett’s version is from Twain’s. First and foremost, there's the matter of the Black dialect Twain used to depict the speech of Jim and other Black characters—which, for many contemporary readers, hinders their enjoyment of his novel. In Everett’s telling, the dialect is a put-on, a manner of concealment, and a tactic for survival. “White folks expect us to sound a certain way and it can only help if we don’t disappoint them,” Jim explains. He also discloses that, in violation of custom and law, he learned to read the books in Judge Thatcher’s library, including Voltaire and John Locke, both of whom, in dreams and delirium, Jim finds himself debating about human rights and his own humanity. With and without Huck, Jim undergoes dangerous tribulations and hairbreadth escapes in an antebellum wilderness that’s much grimmer and bloodier than Twain’s. There’s also a revelation toward the end that, however stunning to devoted readers of the original, makes perfect sense.

One of the noblest characters in American literature gets a novel worthy of him.

Pub Date: March 19, 2024

ISBN: 9780385550369

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

Close Quickview