HORACE

First English translation of an 1840s novel that switches between a contemporary sensibility and old-fashioned preachiness as it limns the life of that so-very-19th-century phenomenon: a young man from the provinces with little money and high hopes. Sand's story scandalized French society when it appeared serially in 1842-43, for its heroine, Marthe, is a gentle barmaid who has lovers, bears a child, and yet, unlike the conventional fallen woman of the times, is not only saved by the love of a good man but ultimately prospers. Marthe is the moral foil, the stable center, that contrasts with Horace, her sometime lover who abandons her when she's pregnant and at her most vulnerable. The pair's story is told by ThÇophile, a freethinking medical student and longtime acquaintance of Marthe's who befriends Horace soon after his arrival in Paris. Set in the early 1830s, when poor and ambitious young men flocked to the city to study or to join revolutionaries plotting against the restored monarchy, the novel is a portrait of a society on the cusp. EugÇnie, ThÇophile's mistress, believes in sexual equality, while the corrupt Viscountess LÇonie, whom Horace also seduces, prefers the old orthodoxy. Horace, not yet 20, is one of those people ``who seem to be acting a part, even as they seriously play out the drama of their lives.'' And while Horace plays out his self-centered drama, friends like saintly artist Paul Arsäne and radical leader Jean Laraviniäre nearly lose their lives on the barricades, and ThÇophile nurses cholera victims. Horace has the highest ideals and great charm but manages not only to ruin himself by gambling, extravagance, and indolence, but almost to kill Marthe, whom he claims to love—until she became pregnant. Tame for today, though Horace as a type can still be foundeven if the means of self-destruction may have changed. A voice from the past with something still to say.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 1995

ISBN: 1-56279-082-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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