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QUEEN TAKES KING

A sly, observant report from a rarefied world that’s sure to be another big hit.

Grazer, author of the novel-turned-TV series The Starter Wife (2005), limns two modern American archetypes, the real-estate mogul and his bored socialite wife, doing battle on the moneyed playing field of Manhattan.

Jacks and Cynthia began with visions of an artistic life (she was a ballerina, he a struggling painter), but when she got pregnant, he lost himself in his father’s real-estate empire. Twenty-five years later, at the anniversary gala for a few hundred of their closest friends and enemies, Jacks shows up late, and livid Cynthia smiles for the cameras. The next day, after seeing a photo in the Post of Jacks embracing his latest girlfriend, morning news anchor Lara, Cynthia tells him she wants a divorce, and Jacks moves into the guest quarters. There is little love left between them, but the real estate they share—now that’s something to fight for. They both want the penthouse, and Cynthia is willing to prolong the divorce for years to get it. So Jacks comes up with a scheme straight out of a screwball comedy to pay a handsome young bartender to woo his wife. Meanwhile, Cynthia is becoming an independent woman for the first time since her marriage. With the help of her Zorba-like therapist and straight-talking lesbian daughter, she takes over the directorship of a ballet company. Her experiences reinforce what she already suspected: The life of a socialite isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Jacks, an amusing caricature of a powerful man with an ego of glass (he’s also terrified of his geriatric father), can’t seem to lure Lara into marriage; he’s found the one woman in Manhattan who would rather cover news on the frontlines in Afghanistan than marry a billionaire. Too much of everything is not quite enough for happiness, Grazer cogently demonstrates, but before she gets too serious, romance redeems everyone.

A sly, observant report from a rarefied world that’s sure to be another big hit.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9199-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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