by Glenda Adams ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 1996
Stories within stories, like a set of Russian nesting dolls, this latest from Australian writer Adams (Longleg, 1992, etc.) is striking work—both lyrical and enigmatic, with the grander components of a fairy tale forming the contours of its frame. Thirteen-year-old Clemenza is dying. Her unnamed illness threatens the sweet existence she shares with her mother Abel, yet the two persevere, vacationing in Vermont and enjoying their cabin's lakeside pleasures. On a dramatically stormy night, a mysterious woman, who looks like Abel's twin, explodes into the cabin in search of a missing manuscript she believes to be in the house. Though the woman leaves empty-handed, Abel later finds the missing pages hidden at the bottom of some recently purchased used books. Clemenza, hungry for an unattainable future, asks her mother for stories of life and love, making the discovery of the manuscript all the more captivating—since it's the diary of a 16- year-old Sydney suburbanite, circa 1956. The discovery is a double delight for Abel, because she too is Australian, and the pages were written in the year of her birth. They offer the simple, idyllic memories she craves, so different from her own dour childhood. And Cornelia Benn's chronicle is in fact a lovely account of innocence and experience, of Australia in the '50s, of dances and first jalopies and declarations of everlasting love. Inserted into Cornelia's diary is the mystery-adventure she's writing. One narrative moves seamlessly into the next, foreshadowing the events of Abel's life until Abel and Clemenza's own unhappy story is finally told, including the tragic event ten years prior that drove them to escape to America. Coincidences and look-alikes are deftly manipulated here by Adams, making the novel playfully Shakespearean in its climactic revelations of true identities and linking elements. Adams captures the right tone for each narrative, creating a haunting and compelling work. A distinctive and likable novel.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996
Page Count: 312
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996
Share your opinion of this book
by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
Share your opinion of this book
More About This Book
by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!