Colorful characters in a lively era but in need of focus.

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DREAMS SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED...THE BEGINNING

In 1963, three girls travel up to Memphis for a weekend they’ll remember the rest of their lives

Though all are from Birmingham, school friends Brenda, Marilee and Clara don’t quite expect the same things out of life. Each around 17, the three drive up to Memphis for a weekend by way of Brenda’s beautiful red convertible, each dreaming of what’s to come. Beautiful Brenda is dying for the chance to meet the man of her dreams, Elvis Presley, while put-together Marilee wants to work in fashion. Clara, who may seem like a simple country farm girl, has a huge heart and is usually the first to help anyone in need. Their weekend also includes Cindye Lou, Marilee’s cousin who lives in Memphis, and her family; though it’s difficult to see, adultery and heartbreak stain the family members’ lives. In an era when racism runs amok, the girls leave Memphis exposed to much more than they’d bargained for, and not necessarily for the best. Author Bridges vividly paints her characters, and their development is enjoyable and entertaining to witness. However, the novel’s focus is distorted by what seems to be too many characters and plotlines. Bridges’ book could almost be two separate novels, one about three girls exposed to city life and one about Cindye Lou and her family. As it stands, there isn’t a strong enough thread tying the two stories together, and the majority of characters seem barely intertwined. Each character has his or her own world with a unique set of problems, but it’s difficult and distracting to look for and try to appreciate a unifying theme.

Colorful characters in a lively era but in need of focus.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4772-7260-2

Page Count: 282

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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