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BREAKING NEWS

Disappointing.

Four women in their golden years—a mother of a grown daughter and her lifelong friends, aka The Godmothers—experience new romantic and professional adventures, finding strength, courage and companionship in their bonds.

This is the newest addition to Michaels’ recent Godmothers series. It follows a group of women in their slightly-past-middle-age years who’ve been friends since childhood. Toots Loudenberry has moved to Charleston, S.C., to make sure her housekeeper, Bernice, isn’t doing any housekeeping—since she nearly died from a massive heart attack and needs to take it easy. Toots’ three longtime friends have also moved in temporarily to help. Toots is blessed with more money than she knows what to do with, which is a good thing, since she’s recently been able to help her friends start innovative businesses that are thriving, which has given them all a chance at new, prosperous lives. And romance is on the horizon for all of them it seems, particularly Toots, who has "the hots" for Bernice's cardiologist. Toots also recently bought the gossip rag her daughter, Abby, has been working for in LA, allowing Abby to take over as editor. Unfortunately, the circumstances that allowed the purchase created some unknown enemies that will come back to haunt Abby and Toots, putting the daughter in danger and showcasing the mother’s feisty, grizzly mama side when something threatens her cub. The premise, storyline and characters show great promise, but getting to the end of the book is a struggle. The older female characters are crass and mean-spirited, so much so that one wonders why they remain friends, except that the author keeps telling us that they are teasing or offers a number of other reasons, via the narrator, that are never actually reflected in characters' dialogue or actions—an enormous weakness that bleeds into every aspect of the book. Information about the present and the past is dumped so awkwardly that even details that should have been interesting are blunted, and the dialogue is too often either unrealistic or a transparent avenue to making sure An Important Piece of Information is delivered. 

Disappointing.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 9780-7582-6606-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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