A shortlisted nominee for the Man Booker Prize, deserving of the widest readership.

SWIMMING HOME

Naked came the stranger—and, oddly, no one’s in much of a hurry to get her clothed.

When Kitty Finch shows up at the door of a famous British poet’s tony vacation getaway in the South of France, she makes quite an impression. She is staggeringly beautiful and, as mentioned, unclothed. And then her eyes—well, “Kitty Finch’s eyes were grey like the tinted windows of Mitchell’s hire car, a Mercedes, parked on the gravel at the front of the villa.” She has skills as a botanist, is a would-be poet herself and has an odd fixation with the poet, who is a bit of an odd duck himself, a collector of bits and pieces of natural history, of bric-a-brac and allusion and especially of people, surrounded by other odd ducks such as a German hippie who “was never exact about anything” and keeps his nose and brain tucked inside Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha most of the time. As South African–born British writer Levy (Ophelia and the Great Idea, 1988, etc.) soon lets us know, Kitty Finch—her name is repeated like a mantra throughout the book—has designs on Joe Jacobs, who doesn’t mind at first, but soon comes to regret the dalliance. Who, after all, wouldn’t be just a little afraid of a girl who can wink with either eye? The bigger question, on which the book turns, is why Joe’s wife, Isabel, allows events to unfold as they do; is this all an experiment for her benefit and interest, too? Levy winds her characters up and watches them go, and they do as most humans do, which is to mess up in the face of desire. Her novel is utterly beautiful and lyrical throughout, even at the most tragic turns (“I have never got a grip on when the past begins or where it ends...as much as I try to make the past keep still and mind its manners, it moves and murmurs with me through every day”).

A shortlisted nominee for the Man Booker Prize, deserving of the widest readership.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-62040-169-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more