A feminist reworking of the Fall, by Simpson (Notes on an Emergency, 1982), that makes the exciting and provocative sound dull and ho-hum. Lilith, in Jewish folklore the first mate of Adam, narrates this story of ``how-it-might-have-been'' if history and theology had been written by women. Certainly no apologist for Lilith—who chose to leave Paradise and roam the world as a demon frightening pregnant women and perpetrating a great deal of nasty and malicious mischief—Simpson suggests that it was not Lucifer but rather Lilith, who, jealous of Eve and of Adam's love for her, tempted Eve. Disguised as a serpent, Lilith shows Eve the apple, then rapes her while she's eating it. After the couple's expulsion from Paradise, Lilith continues to meet Adam, a weak and silly man, on the sly; and when Eve and Lilith both fall pregnant, Adam persuades Lilith not to harm Eve. In exchange, he promises to rear Lilith's child, who is switched with Eve's. Accordingly, the innocent and very decent Eve raises the evil and half-demon Cain, while Lilith does a reluctant and halfhearted job of raising the good and wholly human Isaac. When Cain, jealous of his younger and nicer sibling Abel, murders him, he is punished by God with immortality and a facial disfigurement—the mark of Cain. Adam grows old and increasingly religious, establishing a complete liturgy and rite; Lilith finally tells Isaac of his true birthright and, in an uncharacteristic moment of humility, asks God to let the human and decaying side of Cain die so that he, as a full demon, might join her and Lucifer in hell, where God now imprisons her. And there it ends, as it might have been: Cain freed but Lilith ``forever captive.'' Impeccable though conventional prose and potentially provocative ideas—but all undercut by flat characters and pedestrian storytelling.

Pub Date: June 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-912292-93-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?