In his fifth novel, Wolff (The Final Club, 1990, etc.) deftly mixes a detective-like investigation with rites of passage longueurs to unmask a contemporary serpent in an equally contemporary paradise. When 15-year-old Maisie Jenks deliberately dives headfirst from a high cliff on July 4, her family, especially younger brother Ted, and their entire utopian community are never the same again. Ted begins an investigation that moves from the past to the present as he tries to understand just why his sister did what she did. Maisie and Ted are the children of Ann and Jinx, affluent products of the early 1970s who were persuaded by Jinx's charismatic college roommate, Doc Halliday, to invest in a decaying upstate New York camp. Under Halliday's leadership the camp becomes the Blackberry Mountain community, where the houses are aesthetically and environmentally sensitive, and life is fun, ``a series of topping acts.'' Like so many others, Ted adores the gifted Halliday, who ``was brave, hot to climb a roof or a tree, take a kayak over the falls....No bluster just resolve and zip.'' Ted recalls how Maisie, known for her courage and iconoclasm, finally recovers from her fall yet is irrevocably changed (``she cannot abide recollection, especially the habit of recollection''); how idyllic his boyhood seemed despite the underlying tensions; how his parents' marriage broke down; and how the community itself changed. An incestuous episode is suggestive, but not until Ted himself is an adult teaching in a local school does he understand what really happened. A student essay plagiarizing Lolita provides the essential clue, not only to Maisie, but to his parents' divorce as well, and a heartsick Ted ensures that justice is done, even if it means a fatal betrayal. Except for the sluggish mid-section that recalls the past too lengthily and lovingly, an absorbing tale of monstrous evil with an all too human face. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-40638-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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