This novel about dramatists, although lightened by some witty down-home repartee, displays little aptitude for scene-craft.

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FOLLY BEACH

A LOWCOUNTRY NOVEL

A widow returns to her childhood haven, Folly Beach, S.C., where she is captivated by new love and a literary mystery.

In this latest of Frank’s Lowcountry series set on South Carolina’s picturesque barrier islands, the heroine, Cate, is another victim of the economic crash of 2008. When she discovers her equity-trader husband, Addison, hanging over her piano in their New Jersey mansion, she only has an inkling of the financial shenanigans that led to his suicide. Within 24 hours, mistresses, paternity claims and collection liens are popping up like dandelions, and Cate watches in horror as all her worldly goods are repossessed. Flat broke (even her engagement bling is a zircon!), she has no alternative but to flee to the South Carolina home of her Aunt Daisy, who raised Cate and sister Patti after they were orphaned as children. Almost immediately, in a clichéd fender-bender “meet cute,” she finds Prince Charming: professor John Risley, who specializes in the Charleston Renaissance of the 1920s. Soon Cate is installed in the Porgy House (part of Aunt Daisy’s beach-rental empire), so named because Charleston Renaissance poet DuBose Heyward and his wife Dorothy lived there while George Gershwin was adapting the Heywards’ play Porgy into Porgy and Bess. Around mid-novel, we realize that the sections that have been alternating with Cate’s chapters, narrated by Dorothy, are from a one-woman play that John encouraged Cate to write—or, more accurately, a verbiage-choked rough draft of a play. Cate copes with John’s impossible goodness, Aunt Daisy’s illness, the pregnancy of her son’s narcissistic wife and her actress daughter’s rants, but her chief preoccupation is proving that Dorothy, not DuBose, was the real librettist and lyricist of Porgy and Bess. The narrative is already bogged down by Dorothy’s monologues, but the scenes of Cate’s post-opulent life are equally interminable—Frank is seemingly loath to leave anything out, however mundane.

This novel about dramatists, although lightened by some witty down-home repartee, displays little aptitude for scene-craft.

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-196127-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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