COAST TO COAST

“Have you ever read a novel that’s all dialogue?” “William Gaddis. But hardly any.” “Well, this is. With a handful of descriptive paragraphs scattered about.” —And Raphael’s dialogue is famous. The British TV miniseries The Glittering Prizes, some 19 novels, including After the War (1989). Screenplays? The upcoming Stanley Kubrick movie, Eyes Wide Shut with the Cruises, Julie Christie’s Darling (an Oscar for the script), and that feast of bickering, Two for the Road, with Audrey and Albert.” “Good credits!” “Mmm. Coast to Coast is another road picture with a zinger from left field for an ending. A married couple, bound for divorce, drive an antique Jaguar from New England to Los Angeles to attend their son’s wedding. Of course, they wound each other all the way, largely about the adulteries bringing on their divorce, and the bloodletting gets worse at each of several stops (Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle), particularly at one with Barnaby’s old buddy and Marion’s ex-lover Hal. Once they deliver the Jaguar to their son Benjamin as a wedding present, they’ll split forever. Or will the drive help them work through their problems? The hero is retired sitcom writer Barnaby Pierce, who groaned through several seasons of writing Sergeant Bimbo scripts while his wife Marion stayed home and raised their four kids, growing ever more restive. The subtext to the Jaguar gift is that Benjamin was driving Barnaby’s Chevy on an icy road when he crashed, killing their son Christopher, and now has survivor’s guilt. Did the death do in Barnaby and Marion’s marriage? Or perhaps it was their unbalanced daughter Zara/Zenobia? Well, when the wedding comes, it’s the wedding from hell, with shocks that kill.” “Hmm! Is the talk brilliant?” “Very much so, especially the LA shoptalk. As the anguish deepens, you adjust quickly to knitting all the details together from dialogue. And the jump-cutting between speakers has a Cubist sharpness that should delight.— —All told, one of Raphael’s most successful works.—

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-945774-42-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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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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THE GREAT ALONE

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

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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