THE LAWS

Palmen's debut fiction—a bestseller in its original Dutch edition, 1991 winner of the European Novel of the Year Award—is a probing, disturbing vision of a woman whose identity is shaped by a series of encounters with men she admires. M. Deniet—young, restless, brilliant—pursues knowledge with a vengeance in Amsterdam as she works toward her master's in philosophy. Comfortable in the world of ideas after being exposed to the writings of Sartre at an early age, she thrills a succession of similarly driven, self-absorbed men, starting with the astrologer who wanders into her orbit and marvels over her unique planetary alignments. A scholarly epileptic makes her aware of the metaphorical implications of her skin condition, while a philosophy professor and a renowned author bring her to the recognition that hers isn't an affinity for Nietzsche, but rather an embrace of the worldview of Derrida, which she has acquired without reading him. Encouraged at every turn, she gives of herself sexually and intellectually in exchange, although she pines for renewed contact with a despairing sculptor—a Wunderkind gone belly-up—whom she fancies is her soulmate. But their relationship—when it finally forms—proves disappointing: he can't reciprocate her self- annihilating passion; and after making herself ill, she realizes that something in her understanding of love is terribly amiss. Therapy gives a partial answer in the recall of her first adolescent confrontation with authority, allowing her to pick up the pieces and carry on. Sophisticated and intensely perceptive: a well-crafted, haunting analysis of the creative process and desire—a portrait of the artist as a young woman.

Pub Date: July 26, 1993

ISBN: 0-8076-1329-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Braziller

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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