THE SHRINE

Time passes slowly but agreeably in expat Italian first- novelist Odone's lovingly evoked village in the Italian Piedmont, where memories are long and traditions as much a part of life as the changing of the seasons. Not much seems to change in San Lorenzo, a village set in the foothills of the Alps. The gypsies still arrive each summer for the local festa; each night, as the air cools, the housewives promenade round the square; and the seemingly wealthy Ferrati family still owns the fields and vineyards stretching beyond the large house standing at the edge of the village. But change is as inevitable as the end of summer, and the inhabitants of San Lorenzo are no more immune than others less picturesquely situated. These quiet but substantial changes and their consequences are the substance of Odone's story. Alma and brother Francesco are the last of the Ferratis, but when their father, a forceful and colorful character, dies, they've got to sell the land because he invested unwisely- -which doesn't displease ambitious matriarch and burgeoning landowner Franca, who buys the Ferrati property. Alma, an artist who also lives in Turin, and Francesco, an unhappily married publisher in London, are comforted that they at least still have the house they love. As the year passes, the villagers decide to build a shrine to capitalize on the visions of the Virgin Mary pious young Santarella claims to have seen, but neither the Bishop nor Santarella will cooperate; Alma has an affair with a friend of Francesco's who still lives in San Lorenzo; Francesco, torn between London and Italy, finds his marriage improving. When the siblings learn of more debts their father incurred, they realize they can no longer keep even the house, and accept with grace that the San Lorenzo part of their lives is ended. A beautifully crafted debut novel with a perfect Merchant- Ivory quality, putting place and atmosphere, rather than overheated action, center-stage.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-297-81661-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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