While marching to the beat of a different drummer, Riotta’s love story charms and warms the heart, even if the Colonel is...

PRINCE OF THE CLOUDS

An intriguing romance—and Italian journalist Riotta’s first to appear in English translation.

Amid the tumult of post–WWII Sicily, an uncommon alliance is forged between a pair of young lovers and a retired colonel whose encyclopedic knowledge of battle strategy has given him a unique take on life. Colonel Terzo, whose command of military tactics and motivation is so sweeping that he knows before the war starts that the Axis will lose, spends his war years following the campaigns across Europe and Africa from a safe distance, without ever being allowed to go into combat. After the war he marries a beautiful White Russian princess, Emma, suspected of espionage, and settles with her in Palermo to write his long-awaited masterwork, the Manual for Strategic Living, in which he will bring all of the strategies tested in battle throughout history to bear on the struggles of daily life. Before long he's distracted from his work by Emma's further intrigues, this time in the service of love, as she joins together under their roof the commoner Salvatore, ardent poet and Communist, and the free-spirited Duchess's daughter Fiore. Terzo is to instruct young Salvatore in military history, while she takes Fiore under wing as a companion. Terzo will refuse the woman he loves nothing, most especially since they've just learned that she’s dying rapidly from cancer. But this particular strategy for romantic engagement leads to an all-out war, as the Colonel, Emma, and the lovers are caught up in a peasant rebellion and Terzo has to use all his tactical know-how to save them, and the peasants, from annihilation–a task at which he only partially succeeds.

While marching to the beat of a different drummer, Riotta’s love story charms and warms the heart, even if the Colonel is stuffed too full of battle lore at times.

Pub Date: May 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-23725-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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