Graphic, claustrophobic and fractured, this is emotionally violent and challenging work from a bold modern writer.

THE UNLOVED

In a rented French chateau where a group of tourists of many nationalities have assembled for Christmas, there is feasting, clandestine sex, heroin and a death. But this is no conventional murder mystery.

After the success of her most recent novel, Swimming Home (2012), shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Levy’s earlier novel—with its prefiguring aspects—is published for the first time in the U.S. It’s a dark, uncomfortable story of desire and damage involving three couples (two with children) and two single women gathered together in bourgeois comfort in Normandy. The death of one member of the house party, subsequently investigated by a French police inspector, lends formal shape, but Levy’s interest is less in plot, more in psychology. While the children play and the couples interact, the focus falls on Yasmina, an Algerian woman now lecturing in London, who has had encounters with the parents of another guest, Nancy, an American, decades earlier, when Algeria was struggling to gain independence from the French. Chapters revisiting that brutal era, exposing Yasmina’s shocking story, are sandwiched between staccato scenes in contemporary France in which the subject of love is considered, uncomfortably and repeatedly: “To be in love is to be bitten”; “There is no love without rage.” The tone of the narration is theatrical, as characters cook, comment, share beds, suffer, and sometimes deliver speeches or actual lines of dramatic dialogue. Levy’s approach is cerebral and unsentimental, exploring, in prose both sensuous and supple, the sadness and perplexity of children, the unsatisfied desires of adults, and, above all, the power and role of love.

Graphic, claustrophobic and fractured, this is emotionally violent and challenging work from a bold modern writer.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62040-677-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS

Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more