Defiantly bawdy, but ultimately hollow.


Where have you gone, Margaret Thatcher? A randy Britain turns its eyes to you.

Charlie is getting old—he’s about to celebrate his 70th birthday—but he’s not dead yet, not with Viagra around. (And damn the doctors who say he can’t take it because of his failing ticker.) His wife, Dorothy, stoically accepts the sexual drive the little blue pill generates in her husband, but then she’s stoic in general—so much so that she can even tolerate Charlie’s long-time mistress, Janet. Vignettes about each of Charlie’s four daughters—two with Dorothy, two with Janet—drive the latest novel by Sutton (Kid’s Stuff, 2005), who seems to believe that the conscience of a country would be obvious if only we better understood its underwear-shopping habits. Each woman is framed around her busted relationships, choice in panties and sexual need: Catherine’s a mother of three who sleeps around and resents her ex-husband’s rejection of her for another man; Zara can’t decide if she should dump her boyfriend (he can barely speak English, but he’s great in the sack); Sally satisfies herself with a garden hose; and Alicia is turned off by her boyfriend Mikey’s trips to a strip club, but ashamed of her own dalliance with a fellow teacher. Willfully pulpy, porny and junky, this novel has a few moments in which the characters’ wanton lusts make for some smart, revealing comedy—Janet’s hunt for a vibrator becomes a taut essay on divorce, motherhood and the world of retail. But mostly Sutton is a writer of little nuance whose attitude toward the people he invents borders on contempt—he captures these men and women at their most embarrassed and intimate, not just to expose them for the insecure, needy people they are, but to mock them for it. Does he mean to say that these people are sad victims of a culture that insists they fit a certain model of sexiness, or is he just taking whacks at them? The author seems unaware that there’s a distinction.

Defiantly bawdy, but ultimately hollow.

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-85242-894-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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