An engaging and often riveting story of love, idealism, and betrayal.

BONJOUR, MY FRIEND

In this debut novel, a young American singer discovers romantic intrigue and danger in Paris in 1960.

At age 19, Alycea Androvna is ready to pursue a career in music, a dream she nurtured throughout a childhood marked by tragedy and poverty. Born and raised in New York, she helped raise her siblings after the death of her alcoholic father. Following the death of her grandmother, she takes her inheritance and leaves New York for Paris, where she plans to spend a year establishing her singing career. A dedicated activist, she joins the Paris-based organization Belief in Animal Rescue Causes. She is hired as a singer at Le Restaurant Ledoyen and catches the eye of Andre Moreau, the owner, and his best friend, Marcus, the place’s business manager. Andre’s business interests also include his family’s cosmetics company, Chez Beauté. She develops a friendship with Marcus and his son, Henri, and discovers the warmth and stability of close family ties. At the same time, she is seduced by Andre’s charm and magnetism. After Alycea is injured in a bombing at BARC headquarters, Andre proposes marriage and she accepts. Andre hopes to start a family as soon as they marry, but Alycea wants to continue her singing career. As their wedding approaches, secrets about Chez Beauté threaten to destroy Alycea’s Paris dream. Helene’s novel is a sweeping romance with dynamic, multilayered characters and vivid settings that moves with the fast pace of a thriller. The story focuses on Alycea’s efforts to establish a singing career in Paris and the complex relationships she develops with Marcus and Andre. Alycea is a winsome heroine whose passion for music is matched by her love for animals and her commitment to their safety and protection. Her involvement with BARC establishes the groundwork for a well-developed subplot involving the group’s efforts to expose companies that engage in product testing on animals. The gripping narrative is told through chapters that alternate between the first-person perspectives of Alycea, Marcus, and Andre as well as several supporting characters, including Andre’s sister, Deirdre, and the heroine’s friends at BARC, Netty and Warren.

An engaging and often riveting story of love, idealism, and betrayal.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6888-3

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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