BLEEDING LONDON

The prolific Nicholson's (Footsucker, 1996, etc.) 11th novel is a savagely funny, wayward, loving celebration of London's enchantments and strangeness. The power of an ancient city to seduce is demonstrated in the lives of three vividly particularized characters: Mick, a bright, laconic tough from Sheffield who has come to London seeking revenge on a group of men who, he believes, raped his stripper girlfriend; Judy, a young woman of mixed parentage (her father is Japanese, her mother British) attempting to make this city she obsessively loves her own; and Stuart, the urbane, self-satisfied head of an agency that offers an exotic array of walking tours. Anxious to find some new way to demonstrate his idiosyncratic mastery of London, Stuart hits on the idea of walking every one of its streets, a project that—if he walks ten miles a day, five days a week—should take some three years. Mick, meanwhile, who at first has a provincial's undisguised dislike and distrust of the vast, chaotic city, finds himself disturbed and intrigued by it as he goes in search of his miscreants. These parallel quests, each increasingly quixotic, allow Nicholson to poke satiric fun at London's citizens, catalogue some lively fragments of its history and geography, and anatomize the ways in which we make a city our own. In the end, Mick finds himself liberated by the possibilities of life in the city; Stuart, made arrogant by his supposed mastery of it, is grimly humbled; and Judy hits upon a weirdly transcendent way of making herself permanently one with it. The plot takes a while to build up speed, and the unfiltered blizzard of facts about London is sometimes dizzying, but Nicholson's satirical eye, his obvious love of the city, and his skill at fielding odd, convincing characters overcome any problems. A delightful fiction, and a wonderfully exasperated love letter to a great city.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-87951-807-3

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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