Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

THE PARADISE TREE

A NOVEL

An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter.

Vidal (Madame Royale, 2010, etc.) successfully transforms family stories into a historical novel that chronicles the life of her great-great-great-grandfather Daniel O’Connor, who established a homestead in Ontario in the 19th century. O’Connor, a blacksmith living in County Cork, Ireland, is frustrated in his desire to train as a doctor because of English laws restricting Catholics’ religious freedom and economic chances. When the political activities of his wild younger brother Owen cast suspicion on O’Connor, he flees Ireland, carrying just two mementos of his homeland—a white rosebush uprooted by his mother and a “paradise tree,” a wooden crucifix so called because it represents a ladder of suffering to climb to heaven. Nine years later, he has carved Long Point farm out of the wilderness, creating a home despite the new continent’s own anti-Catholic prejudice. He marries Brigit, a girl 18 years younger than he is, then almost loses her to Owen, who arrives at the farm after his own midnight departure from Eire. But when a vision of his mother appears to him, hands on hips, he finds the will to throw his brother out of the house and confront his bride. She sobs and swears she will die of shame, insisting, “ ‘Oh, yes, I will die. I will,’ she choked. ‘But fret not....I’ll be getting over it.’ ” And she does, bearing 11 children. The novel follows them as they grow to adulthood, marry and have children of their own, with each section of the book told through the eyes of a different character. Though the story unwinds slowly, it never drags.

An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500656027

Page Count: 252

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:

MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

Categories:
Close Quickview