THE BRIDES

Berkowitz, a contributor to Vogue, Playboy, and Glamour, debuts with this particularly busy and crowded story of baby- boom-era female friends seeking to find themselves in men and work. Erica Valenta, the daughter of a pair of hard-working but limited Czech immigrants, gets herself out of Brooklyn by earning a scholarship to Radcliffe. There, alas, she lands in emotional hot water when she drops out to marry a handsome Boston Brahmin, who secretly sees her as his ``gutter girl.'' But her meeting with Melissa John, a model at Goldsmith's Bridal Salon in New York, proves fortuitous, since the two of them strike up a lifelong friendship. While Erica is consumed by work (rising to a top position in an international chemicals firm), gorgeous Melissa heads off to L.A. on a quest of her own—this one for fame and fortune as a movie star—which will entail deluding herself about men and her own desire to feel needed. Meanwhile, another one of their pals is ethereal little Earline Prewitt from Arkansas, who follows her boyfriend to New York only to have him force her into prostitution; ironically, she winds up as Goldsmith's most virginal-looking bridal-gown model. Of course, there's a happy ending in store for one and all: a Belgian diplomat who's head over heels in love with Earline; a freewheeling entrepreneur from California for Erica; and a Down's syndrome baby for Melissa, which she's able to love, accept, and feel fulfilled by. Clearly, there are no new twists on the pot-of-gold-at-the- end-of-the-rainbow formula here, but Berkowitz creates several credible female characters whose searches for self-satisfaction will ring some familiar bells—and keep readers bending back the novel's covers.

Pub Date: June 20, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-05827-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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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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