A sprightly tour through an old woman's family secrets reveals that loving someone often requires the ability to forgive and...
A Parisian grandmother trying to help her daughter through a marital crisis mines the rich history of the family's past in this first novel to be translated into English by prizewinning French author de Villepin.
Eighty-six-year-old Christiane lives alone, missing her late husband. She feels little patience for her daughter Catherine's marital complaints but is happy to have both Catherine and her daughter, Luna, take refuge with her. "I choose to be resolutely nonconformist and scandalous," Christiane tells us. "I hate those qualities in young people, but I find them charming among us oldsters." She chides Catherine for overvaluing the marriage pact and delights her granddaughter, who's writing a thesis on pedagogical systems, with family stories about Rudolf Steiner. "I've had plenty of time to measure what one owes to the sacred and what must not under any circumstances be denied to the profane." Born in 1929, "spoiled and rather poorly raised" in a château, she recalls an adored and charming father with a motorcycle and side car and a prim, religious mother who terrorized her inadvertently with late-night applications of holy water. As she reminisces, a complex family portrait emerges of privilege and deprivation, anthroposophy and debauchery, suffering and grace. "One can't deny that old ladies like myself have tons of experience. When things are going to hell, we at least have this advantage: we know the truth—everything always ends badly." Her beloved father has a dark secret which causes a devastating rupture, and the idyllic childhood of hot air balloons and treasure hunts collapses into social ostracism. "One should not retrace one's steps," she muses, "one quickly smells death and abandonment." Although romantic liaisons are the putative theme here, the deepest relationships are the ones between parents and children. Christiane says, of her daughter, "My greatest love story is her."A sprightly tour through an old woman's family secrets reveals that loving someone often requires the ability to forgive and a certain "sleight of hand."
Pub Date: May 1, 2018
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Other Press
Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2018
A tour de force.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.
After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.A tour de force.
Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018
Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.
Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
Pub Date: April 24, 2018
Page Count: 368
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018
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