An afternoon’s delight for devotees of the kinky, but others might hope for more to wrap their minds around.



This erotic novel traces a woman’s ascendancy to the leadership of a Balkan country, a feat accomplished and accompanied by frequent sexual escapades.

First-time author Stewart relates the lubricious, sometimes scatological tale of Roxanne, a woman whose father, the deposed king of an Eastern European country, has ended up in England after her mother died in unspecified “upheavals” in their former homeland. Undeterred, Roxanne makes her way back as an adult, gradually gaining power, often by getting it on with various men and women in and out of her office. “I’ve done a lot of strategic fucking to get here,” she says, though it’s not all work and no play; she clearly enjoys sex. As she notes after knocking off the president, who dies of a heart attack in bed with her, “Fucking presidents to death must agree with me.” Highlighted by nonstop sex, her subsequent tenure in the executive suite makes Bill Clinton look like a prude. The author gives graphic, blow-by-blow descriptions that border on the clinical of encounters between men and women, women and women, and wilder X-rated happenings. Indeed, though a novel, this book could serve as a useful primer for budding cunnilinguists and as an addendum to the Kama Sutra. Unfortunately, without much interest beyond the bedroom, the plot is too thin to hold the novel together. Though Stewart occasionally tries to sandwich some political philosophy in between the sex sessions, the thoughts on monarchy and democracy are far from profound and are sometimes incomprehensible. Usually competent, the writing stumbles at times, as when a character is “as proud as punch” to have brought a lover to orgasm. For the most part, characters display few attributes besides lascivious ones, so they tend to come off more as mechanical meat puppets than flesh-and-blood humans. Eventually, after so much sex, the novel’s strong suit—its frank approach to and presentation of sex—turns into a weakness: Reading sex scene after sex scene becomes too routine to draw much excitement.

An afternoon’s delight for devotees of the kinky, but others might hope for more to wrap their minds around.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477223284

Page Count: 148

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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