A relatable account of a shameful episode in American history, although its sensibility seems overly modern at times.



This historical novel tells the story of Moore’s (An Ocean Away, 2017, etc.) ancestor, who was hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 17th century.

Susannah Martin (nee North, 1621–1692) was one of the 20 people, including 14 women, who were executed in the infamous Salem witchcraft trials. This novel begins in 1692 as she, along with others awaiting trial—including a 4-year-old girl—languish uncomfortably for three months in Salem Jail. In flashbacks, Susannah remembers her past, beginning in 1646. She was 25 then, living in Salisbury, Massachusetts, still a spinster, and looking to stay that way—until a handsome young widower, George Martin, moved to a neighboring farm. He flirted with her, but she didn’t believe that he was truly interested, because she considered herself “plain, short, and too round.” As the novel traces their courtship, Susannah’s early rebuffs of George’s flirtations reveal her prickly, stubborn personality, a lifelong characteristic: “Calling me a troublemaker is highly accurate,” she notes. “I’ve never been one to keep my opinions to myself.” She was first accused of witchcraft in 1669 (the charges were dropped, but Susannah’s reputation was damaged); later, she and George became embroiled in several lawsuits and court battles with the local Putnam family, losing many decisions. After her husband’s death, Susannah was impoverished, leaving her vulnerable, and on July 19, 1692, she and four others were executed by hanging. Moore does a good job of illustrating her ancestor’s predicament. Susannah’s own words, from real-life trial records, are especially affecting, such as when she laughs at the fits of her accusers, who were young girls: “Well I may at such folly.” However, the couple’s many scenes of courtship become repetitive, smacking of high school dating with its jealousies and snits. Although the book appears well-researched, for the most part, its version of Puritanism can seem ahistorical, allowing such things as loose hair and dancing. And although Moore calls out the issues that led to the accusations, such as the Putnam family’s money, power, and greed for land, she pays little attention to the accusers themselves, and what, besides their parents’ political interests, led to their mass hysteria.

A relatable account of a shameful episode in American history, although its sensibility seems overly modern at times.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941145-95-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mirror Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2017

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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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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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