MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR

As different from The Caine Mutiny as that was from Aurora Dawn- this should tap a wholly different vein. It is the kind of book women- Just past the age of illusion- will read with absorbed interest, occasional ironic recognition, and ultimate critical detachment. But- despite the ease with which the story can be criticized, it will be read. For Herman Wouk has gone behind the scene, the patina of the apparently smug, self-satisfied, successful matron, to the girl she was, starry-eyed about life and love and her own particular genius...Marjorie Morningstar, at seventeen, was sampling the sweetness and the bitterness of life in her parents' newly acquired residence- Central Park West, a far cry, she hoped, from the Bronx where she had been brought up. She and her mother were straining her father's resources to the limit, but Margie must meet the right boys. She was beautiful, reasonably intelligent, had her eye fixed on theatre as a goal (her stage name to be Marjorie Morningstar) — and was willint to ride roughshod over parental restrictions to get there. But religious taboos were ingrained; the cult of respectability was another part of her being. And this- her story- follows a career of near success, recurrent setbacks, gingerly savored temptations, and an obsession about one man, calling himself Noel Airman, glib talker, professional wolf, unstable dabbler in the arts, that nearly wrecked her life. Noel taunted her with the reality of her true ambition- a home in the suburbs, a husband with a regular paycheck, a recognized position as a respectable matron. And Marjorie tried- through the years- to prove him wrong, while striving to remake him in an image he refused to accept. There's so much that is sound and right and moving in the story that it may be quibbling to say it is overlong; that some of the situations are too pat; that some of the characters- Noel himself, and another admirer, Mike Eden- are too often used as oracles, airing their somewhat battered views of life; that the finale seems contrived to tie up the loose ends to everyone's satisfaction. For all these things are true- and yet it remains as an extraordinarily successful portrait of someone who is every woman, at some point or other. And for the major part of the novel, it is holding reading. Primarily a woman's book, although it may open the doors to some men's understanding and sympathy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1955

ISBN: 0316955132

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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