A slow-boiling but richly atmospheric exploration of late-life love and regret.



Two former lovers reunite at the site of their decades-ago romance on a deserted moor in this sequel.

In Dempster’s (Chapel on the Moor, 2014) preceding novel, a young man named Frank Dole and a young woman called Merritt Geary are fascinated by the restoration of an old stone chapel built on an island’s wild moor far from the nearest village. Frank and Merritt also become captivated with each other, and the kind of torrid romance blossoms that readers have been conditioned to think will last a lifetime, even if the chapel doesn’t survive that first book. The sequel opens with the dashing of those expectations. Fifty years have passed since that original adventure; Frank married a woman named Sandra and settled down in San Francisco and Merritt likewise wed. The two have kept in touch only sporadically and superficially—but that changes when Frank receives an email from Merritt proposing that they meet. She’s recently lost her husband to cancer in Italy, and she’s coming to the United States for a class reunion and would like to see Frank before she goes back to Europe. A patiently elaborated story flows naturally from this ordinary beginning, a moody tale that will take the vivid characters to Boston, New York, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, and will also return them, inevitably, to their past on the moor all those decades ago. Dempster writes with an easy, approachable narrative voice. But it sometimes becomes burdened with ridiculous elements, as when Frank’s wife, during a discussion about a woman her husband hasn’t seen in 50 years, says, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, Frank,” or when the author attempts to reproduce a New England accent (“You folks was so excited when you came home talkin’ about yoah discovery, it clean slipped my mind to mention this phone call I got earliah”). In addition, Bostonians will wince at the mention of “Boston Commons.” Still, fans of the previous book should be intrigued by this unexpected kind of sequel.

A slow-boiling but richly atmospheric exploration of late-life love and regret.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79808-072-6

Page Count: 418

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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