Brilliant, richly conceived, and perfectly narrated with the suspense of a good thriller.

DEATH AND NIGHTINGALES

Glasgow-born writer McCabe debuts here with a haunting novel of love and deception set in rural 19th-century Ireland.

On May 3, 1883, Elizabeth Winters awakes to face a day destined to be far from ordinary. She begins by reading a chemist’s manual describing the effects of poisons, then checks to see which she has in stock. A young beauty of 23, Beth lives with her Protestant father Billy Winters. Actually, Billy isn’t really her father, although it was some time after he married the late Catherine Maguire that he became aware of the fact. A well-to-do landlord, Billy comes from a family that invaded Ireland with the king’s men 300 years ago and put Catholics like the Maguires off their own land. His wife, whose family tree went back much farther, looked down on him until the day she died, and his daughter has ample cause to hold him in the lowest esteem herself. Beth has made up her mind to run away with Liam Ward, one of her father’s tenants, who is secretly involved with the Fenian cell that recently assassinated the British viceroy in Dublin. She’s told Liam about a trunk of gold hidden in the house, and so the two of them figure that in two days’ time they can be on a ship bound for America and a new life together. But Billy has recently been visited by a secret government agent from Dublin who asked some very pointed questions about Liam and, hoping to turn him into an informer, let on that there were some unsavory rumors circulating about the precise nature of Billy’s relations with Beth. Straight answers are notoriously hard to come by in Ireland, but deceptions on this scale could hardly be looked for in Dante’s Florence. How easy is it to be caught in someone else’s net when you are still casting your own?

Brilliant, richly conceived, and perfectly narrated with the suspense of a good thriller.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-237-7

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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