Sex clubs, sadomasochism, and quasi-incestuous relationships fill the pages of this latest scandal-romance featuring a successful novelist and her oft-derailed search for true love, by the author of the paperback Labels. As the wife of young Wall Street hopeful Harry Winton and mother of two, voluptuous Marcella Balducci Winton chafes under the oppression of a lousy sex life (except for an afternoon encounter in a meat locker with her local grocer), and the fact that her desire to become a writer has so far been thwarted. Marcella's life really explodes, however, when she wins a million-dollar contract for her first novel, a steamy romance so hot her editor is forced to seduce her on his office rug. Harry, unable to deal with his wife's newfound power, disappears with the kids, leaving Marcella wealthy, professionally fulfilled, but bereft as a mother. Though her son, Mark, soon returns, daughter Sonia prefers to stick with Harry, who must flee the law as well when his underhanded financial dealings are discovered. Why can't she ever have it all—success, love and happiness—at the same time, Marcella sighs, as she enrolls Mark in music school, goes out on author tours, writes another romance, and visits a local sex club for an occasional mÇnage Ö trois to satisfy her abnormally strong sexual cravings. She's hardly the one to complain. Masochistic Sonia, who grows up to become a Vogue model, will be murdered by her lover before she's 21; Mark, a musical prodigy, will continue sleeping with his mother until he's 18; Harry will die of cancer in a nearby prison; but Marcella will emerge triumphant, her books topping the best-seller lists and a new, spiritually inclined Spanish lover on her arm. Curiously thirtysomething, hard-core romantic fantasy, littered with obnoxious stereotypes (black studs, predatory homosexuals, etc.), but so sexy it's bound to sell.

Pub Date: July 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-553-35326-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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