Witchcraft, adventure, and romance intertwine in a rich tapestry of 16th-century France, by the author of The Infidel (1979). The Inquisition finds necromancy in every town and village, and women by the thousands are tortured and burned as witches, a fate that has befallen the mother and grandmother of nine-year-old Lamia. Living alone in the forest after her mother's death, the child is feared as a witch for her parentage, her wild ways, and her flaming red hair. When she stands in danger of imminent capture by superstitious churchmen, Lamia is befriended by the wealthy and cultured Marco Cellini, who secretly practices an enlightened sorcery that edges toward true science. Under his protection, she meets the gentle Peronnette, whose solitary ways prompt accusations that she is a witch; Giles de Sade, a Florentine nobleman reluctantly expatriated to France to claim his paternal birthright as Count of Nevers; and the handsome, sensual Ghanim, a Moor who possesses skills of medicine and mind control unknown in Europe. As she grows into womanhood, Lamia abandons her secure existence and seeks to avenge her mother's death, which was carried out at the direction of Bishop Geoffroi. In her daring plan to set the Inquisition against the Inquisitor by having the bishop himself convicted of Satanism, Lamia makes herself vulnerable to the Church's paranoia. As she tightens her trap around the prelate, he strikes back, and she is captured and accused of being the notorious Red Witch of Nevers. Her cool courage and an ingenious rescue scheme devised and smoothly carried out by Marco, Giles, and Ghanim, combine to turn the tables once again. In a satisfying resolution, evil churchmen and vulgar nobles meet their downfall, while the oppressed triumph. Taylor brings to life the pretensions and persecutions of a bygone era, spiking them with modernist philosophy and morality. A fairy tale for adults, and delectably escapist entertainment. (Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: June 13, 1994

ISBN: 0-525-93745-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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