A dishy, sometimes somber, scandalous tale of what happens when you fall in love with the president of the United States.

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THE FIRST AFFAIR

The authors of The Nanny Diaries have written a transparent account of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal through the perspective of the female protagonist.

Although the novel is placed in the present with our familiar political woes, the plot plays out identically to the events of the Clinton administration. As a recent grad, Jamie McAllister has little luck job hunting, but then her best friend’s mother pulls some strings, and Jamie finds herself as a White House summer intern in the government of Greg Rutland, a charmer with Robert Redford good looks. Amid the usual worries—finding a real job, student loans, family problems—President Rutland is encouraging and kind. And then their flirtation becomes something else. Document deliveries turn into bathroom quickies, with his secretary all but covering for these trysts. The president calls late at night to talk, and Jamie begins to fantasize about their future life together. Meanwhile, Rutland is getting ready to defend himself in a sexual harassment lawsuit (remember Paula Jones?), and aides suggest sending Jamie elsewhere, as she’s proven to be a distraction and potential liability to the president’s re-election campaign. Jamie is furious—she had finally gotten a real job at the White House (on her own merit)—and complains to her friends, many of whom know she’s having the affair. At this point, it is hard to muster sympathy for either Jamie and her imprudent naïveté or the president and his manipulations, but then the authors introduce Mike, Jamie’s first boyfriend, an adult sexual predator who seduced Jamie when she was 12. The president? Well, he has panic attacks, and his wife doesn’t understand him, and Jamie is so fresh and hopeful. But not after the trial. In a turn of events à la Linda Tripp, one of Jamie’s friends records their conversations, and soon, Jamie is on the witness stand regaling the world with humiliating details of her affair—her only option to prevent a prison term.       

A dishy, sometimes somber, scandalous tale of what happens when you fall in love with the president of the United States.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4344-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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