Bland, harmless New York City tableau from a chick-lit pro.



The highs, lows and heartaches of the residents of an upscale Manhattan apartment building, examined during the course of a few momentous months.

When her husband Ed is transferred, self-deprecating Brit Eve Gallagher finds herself both thrilled and terrified at the prospect of starting a new life in New York City. She initially lucks out by finding a gloriously sunny two-bedroom in a fabulous building on the Upper East Side, but discovers that making friends is a far more daunting task than decorating her new digs. Her neighbors are the usual assortment of types. Prematurely dowdy single librarian Charlotte dreams of a romance-novel Mr. Right, while promiscuous hottie Madison has her sights set on Jackson Grayling III (aka Trip), the wealthy young bachelor in 5A. He, meanwhile, yearns for athletic Emily Mikanowski, a natural beauty who works in television and shows little interest in dating anyone, let alone someone as unmotivated as Trip. Anxious stay-at-home mom Kim Kramer is focused on her spoiled toddler Avery to the point of alienating her stockbroker husband Jason, who secretly fancies stunning Rachael Schulman. With her successful career, three great kids and a country house, Rachael seems to have it all, until she finds out husband David is having an affair. A happily nested gay couple and a series of Cuban doormen round out the cast, but Eve makes her first real connection with 82-year-old Violet Wallace, a fellow Englishwoman who arrived in New York as a war bride in 1946. Violet helps ease Eve’s homesickness, while revealing the mysteries of her past. She also provides invaluable support when Eve becomes pregnant with her first child and things do not go as planned. Lacking in edge and unapologetically sincere, Noble’s latest (Things I Want My Daughter to Know, 2008, etc.) benefits from a winning and vulnerable Everywoman in Eve, though the rest of her characters are a bit of a snooze.

Bland, harmless New York City tableau from a chick-lit pro.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5483-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2009

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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