THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP

A strong reminder of just how affecting nostalgia can be, but Part 2 of this love story is out of tune with its beginning.

Simsion makes a clear departure from the world of The Rosie Project (2013) and provides a soundtrack to this story of love in two parts.

Adam Sharp usually reserves reminiscing about his stint as an IT consultant in Melbourne for when he’s listening to sad songs of lost love. But a one-word email from his ex-lover is powerful enough motivation to get him questioning his choices over the last 22 years. When “hi” hits his inbox, Adam is living a life of routine in England. His long-term relationship with fellow IT professional Claire is more friendly than passionate but extremely functional. Gone are the days where he is regularly behind a piano, singing to—or with—a girl. For Adam, that girl is Angelina Brown, who walked up to him at the piano in 1989 with mascara running down her cheek and asked if he could play “Because the Night.” He ended by singing out to the man who pulled her away, whom he later discovers to be Angelina’s husband, with “a Lennon–McCartney send-off. ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.' " The first half of the novel is devoted to Adam’s affair with the young, up-and-coming actress, with music playing an essential role in their connection—something they’ll never share with anyone else. Though “in the end it was [he] who lost the girl.” Back in the present, the email exchange turns from playful to life-changing when Angelina invites Adam to stay with her in France. The consequences of reconnecting take on the physical form of Angelina’s husband, Charlie, who reveals himself as an active player in this charade. Their week in France is a complicated unfolding that feels like its own book, a midlife crisis that develops in real time during which Adam's and Angelina’s versions of the past collide. With a piano serving as their medium, they must reconcile the 20-something versions of themselves with the people now sipping on 1966 Château Margaux.

A strong reminder of just how affecting nostalgia can be, but Part 2 of this love story is out of tune with its beginning.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-13040-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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