A first-class yarnspinner (The Search for Temperance Moon, 1991, etc.) lives up to his award-winning standard in this latest saga from the Arkansas wilderness—in which a hardy pioneer family survives an earthquake, Indian attackers, and the designs of unscrupulous men before taking root and prospering in the Ozarks. The Fawley clan, of humble English origin, arrives in St. Louis—then the edge of the frontier—at the beginning of the 19th century, when Spanish, French, British, and American interests were vying for control. Taking his family into the forest in search of a homestead, Boone Fawley soon becomes embroiled in a savage trading war, narrowly avoiding the gruesome fate suffered by upstart traders who befriended him. Subsequent tranquility is shattered by the cataclysm of the New Madrid earthquake, which swallows the Fawley cabin and Boone's sister, leaving him befuddled and increasingly helpless, and forcing his wife and sons to take charge. Questor and John save their father from would-be robbers en route to a new home, so that the family arrives intact in the hills above Little Rock, settling down to raise cotton and run a profitable still—until one day Boone wanders off to Texas never to be seen again. His grieving wife Molly dies when bitten by a snake, and the boys carry on, increasingly indebted to the ruthless planter who owns their fields and covets John's lovely bride. They escape their virtual slavery when an Eastern rube comes along wanting to buy the land from them. They flee to the remote Ozarks, but trouble follows and a final bloody encounter is necessary before they can be fully free of their past. Vivid and lively, with each character superbly drawn: an engrossing if far-fetched tale of family life and unsung heroes in the taming of the West.

Pub Date: June 8, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2243-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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