Proust meets John Irving in this grand and delightful comedy of manners.


Twin girls from Texas oil money go on to fabulous destinies.

“We moved as far away from Daddy as we could get—to Colombia in my case, to Paris in yours. Neither of us lives in our native language. I’m called Sister and you’re called Baroness. We never returned to Texas.” The National Book Foundation gave White a lifetime achievement award in 2019 and his latest book might be seen as a fun thank-you gift to readers. Though this high-spirited confection is something of a departure for an author known as a cultural critic and chronicler of contemporary gay culture, it's steeped in White’s ironic worldview and mines both his well-known obsessions (France, the French, their language) and lesser-known ones (Catholicism, convent life, the path to sainthood). And, come to think of it, there are plenty of gay and bi characters, and really eloquent descriptions of genitalia. “Our mother had named us out of a movie fan magazine, Yvonne and Yvette, but she was so ignorant she said our names “Why-Von” and “Why-Vet”…We were 14 and real Texas beauties with our blond hair, tiny ears, long legs, and high breasts, though our...mother made us cover them up with extra-large blouses." After their mother died and their father remarried, "All that changed under Bobbie Jean. She made us say our names in the proper French way and corrected our old relatives who mispronounced them—'I’m sorry,' Bobbie Jean said, 'but we’re not that country.' " By the time the girls’ story ends in far-flung corners of the globe with both high crimes and miracles to their names, they are certainly not country anymore. Narrated by Yvonne with long letters from Yvette, including cameos by Givenchy, Audrey Hepburn, and Jacqueline Bouvier, the novel brims with wit and style.

Proust meets John Irving in this grand and delightful comedy of manners.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63557-255-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020


Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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