The wife of a notorious Ponzi schemer (think Ruth Madoff, but 20 years younger) hides out from aggrieved investors on Hilderbrand’s home turf, Nantucket.

Meredith Delinn is rescued from her Park Avenue penthouse in the middle of the night after a frantic phone call to her estranged childhood friend Connie. Her husband, Freddy Delinn, has been sentenced to 150 years in a federal penitentiary, and marshals are coming to seize the penthouse and everything in it. Connie, who, with her late husband, famed architect Wolf, had withdrawn their money from Delinn’s fund just in time (whence the estrangement), spirits Meredith off to her Nantucket beachfront retreat. Meredith’s not doing well; she’s even been blackballed by her hairdressers and forced to live without highlights. Investors who formerly hounded her to persuade Freddy to accept their money now howl for her immolation. Even in disguise, she can’t get a pedicure at a Nantucket salon without being called out by an outraged victim. The narrative unfolds from the alternating POVs of Meredith and Connie. While coping with current crises, both women reflect on how their adolescent years shaped the present. Besides her adored father, the most important person in Meredith’s teenage life was Toby, Connie’s charismatic brother, who broke her heart. Instead she married Freddy, her fellow Princetonian. The couple struggled whilst Freddy founded his first hedge fund, but suddenly their fortunes soared. (Too suddenly, Meredith belatedly reflects.) Connie, who grew up in the same Philadelphia Main Line milieu as Meredith, is consumed by grief and regret after Wolf’s death from cancer. Her daughter Ashlyn, whose lesbianism sits ill with Connie, hasn’t spoken to her since Wolf’s funeral. Soused on chardonnay, Connie almost scuttles her first chance at new romance. And Marilyn is not so much an example of innocence wronged as passivity repaid. Although the timely premise titillates, the story soon degenerates into just another redemptive middle-aged reconciliation of past and present, complete with many bromidic meditations on the true nature of love. Beach-ready reading.  


Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-09966-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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