THE STAND-IN

A bleak, blackly comic departure for Moggach, who's done some amusing satiric surgery on assorted contemporary British foibles, and who sympathetically investigated the matter of surrogate motherhood in To Have and to Hold (1987). Here, we have the raw- nerved, jumpy, zigzag, running-on-empty self-narrated chronicle of an English stand-in for a blond American movie star. Much pounding of the heart, grinding of teeth, along with some zaps at the Hollywood scene—all followed by murder and a neat ending twist. Julia Sampson (``Jules'') feels nothing in particular when she first sees Lila Dune—a star ``specializing in daffy, slightly tacky blondes''—filming in London. And nothing in particular is changing in her own acting career (at present she's a fairy godmother in an environmental kids' show) until her resemblance to Lila gets her a stand-in job. Casual conversation with Lila, who's the simple, self-absorbed, offhand kind, bruised by rotten relationships with men, is a one-way street; Lila doesn't take in much from the outside. But a kind of friendship happens, and in America the more intelligent, intellectual Jules begins to guide Lila's rocky boat. Back home, however, Julia had made a mistake in introducing Lila to her dynamite lover, Trevor, whose voltage could melt bones. In the US—New York and Hollywood—something else is cooking Jules's innards—namely an obsession with Lila (``the me I longed to see''). In crazy, secret masquerades, Jules begins to step into Lila's persona. Then guess who Lila's new man—and prospective husband—is.... Lila had said to Jules once, in admiration, ``I sure as hell wouldn't like you for an enemy.'' How true. Some ``severe schizoid'' creepy stuff, ranting and broadax satire, set on both sides of the Atlantic and a place called enigmatically ``Here.'' With a marvelous snap of a windup, an absorbing, inventive chiller, complete with undertones of a sour, wry humor.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1991

ISBN: 0-316-57751-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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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

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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

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