Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022

Next book

OUR LADY OF THE HIGHWAY

A raucously funny yet heartfelt and illuminating tale of holy orders at their most chaotic.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022

Rogue nuns and a psychic novice reinvigorate a failing convent in this comic novel.

Hartley’s rollicking yarn centers on Our Lady of the Highway, a run-down convent in a grim, industrial area of Brooklyn where the sisters have spent 347 years praying nonstop in shifts for world peace. But with only three nuns left, the youngest being the 71-year-old Mother Superior, Sister Bernadette, their vigil will sputter out unless the parish priest can find new blood. Such materializes in the form of Sister Magdalena, who’s a fugitive thanks to righteous crimes, such as sinking a freighter full of weapons bound for a Venezuelan coup. She brings along Sisters Evelyn and Veronica, both with equally shady resumes. Taking over as Mother Superior, Magdalena scandalizes Bernadette by starting a microbrewery to cater to Brooklyn hipsters. Meanwhile, the sisters fend off the machinations of a tycoon who wants to turn the convent into a sewage treatment plant. Further stirring the pot is Lola, a former insurance claims adjuster with psycho-kinetic powers that result in stopped clocks, shattered glass, or collapsing fire escapes when she gets upset. She joins the convent thinking it’s a calm place where she can’t hurt anyone. With a marketing plan of offering intercessory prayers for customers who buy beer and having Lola do pin-up posters in an off-the-shoulder habit, the convent does a boffo business and signs up dozens of new nuns—until the police, the FBI, and the National Guard come for Magdalena. Hartley, a celebrated indie film director, writes in a confidently cinematic style, filling the novel with quirky, sharply drawn characters; multiple viewpoints and flashbacks; exquisitely carved, imagistic vignettes—“Confident, preoccupied, serious but smiling, Magdalena is uncomplicated, graceful and selfless even as she pauses to slip a handgun into her ankle boot”—and hilarious deadpan dialogue. (“Mother Superior, may I ask a question?” “Of course.” “Are you all wanted by the law?”) For all its farcical elements, the story is an inquisitive depiction of the cloistered life, exploring its seething tensions and energetic discipline and taking seriously its commitments. (“In reality,” Bernadette muses, “God doesn’t make himself known to you except through the miracles of endurance and selflessness.”) The result is an entertaining but thoughtful spoof.

A raucously funny yet heartfelt and illuminating tale of holy orders at their most chaotic.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73792-743-3

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Elboro Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 107


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 107


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Next book

LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

Close Quickview