LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH

A newlywed must choose between her reliable, handsome and wealthy Atlanta husband and her charismatic, handsome but unpredictable ex, whom she left behind in Manhattan.

What’s a girl to do? Giffin (Baby Proof, 2006, etc.) specializes in this kind of dilemma, featuring a young woman torn between good-cop and bad-cop lovers. In her latest outing, 30-something Ellen, a successful freelance Manhattan photographer, has just married Andy Graham, brother of her college friend Margot. Margot has married and moved back to her wealthy family’s home ground, Atlanta, and Andy, a Wall Street lawyer, yearns to simplify his life, buy a sprawling suburban home and go into practice with Dad. Ellen chances to glimpse her ex-boyfriend, Leo, a journalist, on a New York street. She thought, wrongly, that her troubled memories of their intense, yearlong affair had abated. Ellen resists Leo’s “just friendship” overtures, until he sets her up on an L.A. shoot with a fabulous rock star. Ellen finds herself again in emotional thrall to Leo, especially after they hold hands throughout the red-eye flight home. Guiltily, she doesn’t mention Leo around Andy or Margot. In her cushy Atlanta exile, Ellen’s domestic disquiet is palpable: A product of blue-collar Pittsburgh, she feels smothered by the too-patrician, too-generous, too-Southern Grahams but also relishes belonging to a family. (She’s been motherless since she was a teen.) After a quarrel with Andy, Ellen turns again to Leo. Despite a competent depiction of Ellen’s social dislocation, the supposed Andy vs. Leo contest is a no-brainer. Bad-cop Leo is still the flake Ellen dumped with good reason and good-cop Andy is still the mensch she very wisely married.

Risk-averse.

Pub Date: May 13, 2008

ISBN: 978-0312348663

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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