A well-done character study of lives in mini-crisis, with a meandering plot.

SATISFACTION

A debut from British Greenwood, examining a group of friends who have a life-altering summer week.

The chapters alternate between November 2004 and August 1994 and revolve around a group of 30-something Londoners linked by blood, marriage and friendship. The three Fielding sisters couldn’t be more different, though they do agree that their mother Lucy (a bestselling author of self-help books jammed with life-affirming platitudes) is a bit bonkers. Youngest Grace is a rising star in the year’s hottest nighttime soap. Thea, sexy and aloof, is just back from a few years lawyering in L.A. Her twin sister Amy is experiencing a minor mid-life crisis, escalated now that she’s found out she’s pregnant. Her husband, dependable James, is having a slight setback of his own (an elevator phobia) and is seeking the advice of a young shrink named Patrick, while his best friend Archie is the only one of the bunch with a real set of problems: His girlfriend just left him; his magazine is being liquidated; and he is going in for surgery on what might be testicular cancer. The short chapters set in 2004 give the somewhat plot-less tale a bit of momentum. Amy is now consulting Patrick, the psychologist her husband saw ten years earlier, and the book’s climax comes in the form of revelations divulged during her sessions. Greenwood’s strength, though, is her examination of the compelling assortment of grown-up characters, all struggling with messy problems.

A well-done character study of lives in mini-crisis, with a meandering plot.

Pub Date: June 19, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-307-35138-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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