A fun, but ultimately forgettable, escape into moneyed madness.

PERFECTLY IMPOSSIBLE

The personal assistant to unfathomably wealthy Upper East Side socialite Kissy Von Bizmark keeps her boss’s life in order while neglecting her own.

Anna, a 30-something Yale-educated struggling artist, spends most of her days not in the studio painting but in the home of Kissy Von Bizmark—Bambi to her husband, Mrs. Von Bizmark to her staff— taking care of all the minutiae that keep the family afloat. Secret plastic surgeries, splashy vacations on the private jet, a fancy personal chef flown in from Colombia—Anna finagles, finesses, and finds a way to fulfill her employer’s every whim. But when the Von Bizmarks are to be honored at the New York City Opera’s opening night ball—following their financing of the entire production, to the tune of $12 million—Anna must contend not only with the drama of planning an over-the-top pre-gala luncheon, but with the growing marital strife between the Von Bizmarks and her own identity crisis. Readers who enjoy a glimpse into the outrageous lives of the one percent will find plenty to enjoy in the deviously decadent characters, exorbitant displays of wealth, and tongue-in-cheek humor. But it’s this flagrant privilege that also brings the novel down. Modern audiences are not the same readers who devoured The Devil Wears Prada (2003)—to which this book will no doubt be compared—almost two decades ago, and reading about $4 million credit card charges, private helicopter rides to Hamptons mansions, and beleaguered assistants now feels more out of touch than ever. With its Cinderella-at-the-ball ending and “the wealthy are just like us!” ethos, the novel reads just a shade too sincere to be truly satirical, and the wasteful ways of the superrich are never deeply examined.

A fun, but ultimately forgettable, escape into moneyed madness.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1867-8

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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