A humane, knowing comedy perfect for a moment when no one in America seems to like one another.


Members of the New York elite we've been hearing so much about catch a sudden case of agita the weekend after Donald Trump is elected president.

Eva Lindquist, who's hosting a weekend getaway at her country home in rural Connecticut, kicks things off on Page 1 by asking everyone whether they’d be willing to ask Siri how to assassinate Trump. None of them—a magazine editor, an interior designer, two book editors, a choreographer, and a burgeoning writer—take her up on it. Eva, who showed academic promise as an undergraduate, hasn’t worked on her biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner since she married Bruce, a wealth management adviser “rich enough that I can’t really say how rich I am”; the names of their three Bedlington terriers are Caspar, Isabel, and Ralph, after characters from Henry James novels (this is a WASPy crew). Eva sees herself as a “saloniste,” gathering intriguing, ambitious people together. But she also embodies the traits Republicans deplore in smug liberals, like a certain superciliousness, as when she orders her Latinx housekeeper, Amalia, to change the channel anytime Trump pops up, supposedly for Amalia’s own good. An avowed Republican lives across the hall from the couple in Manhattan, one reason Eva decides to nab an apartment in Venice to spend more time away from America. Eva’s obsession with the “demon” Trump eats away at her marriage while the labyrinthine process of purchasing property in Venice becomes crushing. Bruce is pondering a secret, hefty financial gift to his longtime secretary, who has cancer, and letting his eye wander toward one of Eva’s acquaintances. None of the main characters gets a pass in this dark comedy, and it’s a lot of fun: Democrats, Republicans, writers, and even one magazine editor who binges on sugar-dusted sticks of butter—Leavitt skewers them all in this delectable novel.

A humane, knowing comedy perfect for a moment when no one in America seems to like one another.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62040-487-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.


Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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