Warm, clever, a little silly, a lot of fun.

ON TURPENTINE LANE

A professional thank-you-note writer buys a house with a past and gets more than she bargained for.

Faith Frankel is feeling like a bit of a loser. She has a futureless job writing letters to alumni in the development department of her old private school. Her fiance, who gave her a piece of red thread in lieu of an engagement ring, is on a cross-country walk to benefit his own personal growth and is documenting the trip on Facebook with selfies that include smiling ex-girlfriends in locations across the country. Her insurance-agent father has become a painter in his retirement and left her mother for the woman who convinced him to start a bat-mitzvah-gift forgery business. “She asked if he could make a copy of Chagall, but perhaps more lavender than blue—purple was their daughter’s favorite color—and work her daughter’s name into it, and give the angel her face, with her bangs but without her braces.” This, it turns out, is a business model whose time has come. When Faith finds, in the attic of her new little house, a photo album containing images of what may be dead twin babies, she's so creeped out that she offers her empty second bedroom to her handsome, kind, newly single, and homeless officemate. Nick Franconi is another idea whose time has come. Of course things will get worse before they get better, with the local police department ripping up her basement in search of murder evidence and a scandal at the office in which Faith is accused of funneling a huge alumni donation to her fiance. Lipman (The View from Penthouse B, 2013, etc.) is known for her dialogue, so snappy, funny, and real that it cancels out any dubiousness about the kooky mystery plot.

Warm, clever, a little silly, a lot of fun.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-80824-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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