A lyrical, lovely story of doomed romance that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Shadows of Paris

Travel and history writer Lehman (Connecticut Town Greens, 2015, etc.) turns his hand to fiction in this short novel set in the City of Lights.

American William Byrnes has taken a teaching position at École Eustache, a private school in Paris, despite his abysmal French. However, he can’t escape the guilty weight of a past tragedy for which he tries to atone by leading a Spartan, lonely life, living in a school-provided apartment decorated with West African art by his Nigerian predecessor. He lives on oatmeal, rice, and strong tea, stubbornly oblivious to the delights of the city. That changes when his boss, Monsieur Cygne, tasks him with reading Émile Zola’s 1873 novel The Belly of Paris and sends him to Librarie Anglais Rose, an English-language bookstore owned by beautiful Massachusetts expatriate Lucy Navarre. She insists on adding to his reading list—including works by Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and Honoré de Balzac—and soon the two are spending leisurely Saturdays exploring the Paris that William has ignored until now. Though she has an absent French husband and he wears a wedding ring, they become emotionally intimate, eventually trading painful secrets. Overall, this slim volume contains little incident, instead sketching the two characters as they connect to both the city and each other; at one point, for example, Lucy’s gray eyes remind William of “the Seine after rain, or the winter sycamores of the Champ-de-Mars from a distance.” Indeed, Lehman’s brevity is his strength, as drawing out the story might have ruined its quiet pacing and intensity. Toward the end of the book, Monsieur Cygne asks William what he’s learned about French literature, to which he answers, “I would say it is about the inevitability of loss”—and so is Lehman’s tale.

A lyrical, lovely story of doomed romance that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938846-92-2

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Homebound Publications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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FINDERS KEEPERS

Smashingly successful soapster Michaels (Vegas Sunrise, 1997, etc.) takes on Charleston, South Carolina, and the story of wealthy young Jessie Roland—old soap in a new wrapper. What can you say about Jessie’s bony adoptive mother, Thea Roland, who—thrice miscarrying, with two stillborns and a dead baby daughter—lights a cigarette on page two, drinks from a gold flask, then blows a smoke ring, and—stunning them—improbably announces to her surprised doctor and husband that she’s a drunk? Next, Thea kidnaps a golden-haired baby from a filling station and cries, “FINDERS KEEPERS!” as her husband drives her and her new treasure home. Years pass. Kidnaped baby Jessie becomes a solemn schoolgirl equipped with a $100 book-bag and a three-room playhouse, then as a college girl splits from tearful Thea, who replenishes Jessie’s trust fund by selling, one by one, her 73 Greek tankers. When Jessie becomes pregnant, she marries lover Tanner Kingsley but loses the baby during an accident—a baby she hopes will be cared for in heaven by Sophie, the best friend who committed suicide and has left her a fortune. When Thea dies, she leaves her tell-all diaries to Jessie, who discovers the identity of her real parents and, after reuniting with them, leaves for Nairobi. Paralyzingly ladylike junk that’s bloated with redundant dialogue and that, going by Michaels’s record, will sell.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-57566-323-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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