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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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