An accretion of exquisite moments.

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WHEN THE NIGHT COMES

A soulful fictional homage to a beloved Antarctic vessel, from Australian author Parrett (Past the Shallows, 2014).

The red-hulled Antarctic supply ship Nella Dan, like its fictional counterpart, was decommissioned and sunk in the mid-1980s after running aground on the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie. In Parrett’s second novel, the Nella Dan brings together, however temporarily, a broken Australian family and a Danish sailor. Teenager Isla, her unnamed younger brother and her mother (known only as Mum) move to Hobart, Tasmania. The implication is that Mum has left the children’s father. (The precise nature of the domestic difficulties will emerge but is not the main focus here.) Watching as Nella Dan docks in Hobart, Isla notices a man on deck waving to her. From there, a series of vignettes narrated in turn by Isla and the man who waved—Bo, the ship's chief cook—reveal in small, earthy details how kind people can be. Somehow Bo meets Mum, and while he's in port, he tries to be a father to her children. He shows them how to shell walnuts with a pocketknife, introduces them to the warm delights of Nella Dan’s kitchen, gives Mum cooking tips, and encourages Isla, as she enters high school, to pursue science. From the ship’s logs we learn the progress of the Nella Dan as she transports personnel to and from an Antarctic research station, making frequent stops in Hobart, and spends weeks trapped in ice. Although all hands survive Nella Dan’s final mishap, she is scuttled by her owners. Bo—who, like his father before him, joined Nella Dan’s crew as a teenager—is a gentle giant, and Mum, though apparently grateful for the help and companionship, is too damaged by her history to let him join her family. All these facts are approached obliquely, without any trace of sentimentality. Although the specter of child endangerment does arise—the brother is menaced by a white van, a young schoolmate is hit by a car—Parrett’s emphasis is on the opposite: child nurturing in whatever unexpected guise it may occur.

An accretion of exquisite moments.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5489-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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