WILD HORSES

Stealing a few hours from Unstable Times, the horsey film he's directing in Newmarket, Thomas Lyon goes to visit his friend Valentine Clark, a blacksmith/columnist dying of cancer, and becomes the reluctant repository of Valentine's confession that he killed that Cornish boy and left the knife with Derry. Cryptic ramblings, thinks Thomas, until Dorothea Pannier, the sister who survived Valentine, is savagely attacked by somebody who's been searching their house for some evidence (a book, a photo, a memorandum?) of Valentine's crime, and Thomas is threatened with death if he doesn't stop work on the film he's making, a fictionalized account of the 26-year-old hanging of Sonia Wells, whose husband, trainer Jackson Wells, the film seems to implicate in her death. There's no shortage of suspects who'd like to see the last of Unstable Times—Sonia's sister Audrey Visborough goes so far as to plant vituperative rumors about Thomas's feud with the screenwriter in a local tabloid, and the rest of the family lines up behind her to sniff their disapproval—but why would any of these prim snobs have stabbed so many people (Dorothea, her supercilious son Paul, Thomas himself) who seem to know nothing about the case? And who are Derry and the Cornish boy, anyway? The lowdown on film direction is fascinating—is there anything, however remotely connected with horses, that Francis isn't an expert on?—but the mystery is muddled and the villains muffled. Coming after the twin peaks of Driving Force (1992) and Decider (1993), this entry marks an off year for Francis and his many fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-13974-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more