Le Tellier examines the possibilities of love after 40, and he deals with this issue with patience, understanding and...

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ENOUGH ABOUT LOVE

Two love triangles (equal one love hexagon?) that reveal much—or at least enough—about love.

The first complication d’amour involves Thomas Le Gall, a psychiatrist in Paris. He waits for Anna Stein, one of his patients for 12 years and now finally getting ready to end her therapy. Toward the end of this session, she impulsively blurts out that she’s recently met Yves Janvier, a writer whom she finds intriguing. Le Gall duly notes this information and then a few hours later is struck by an erotic thunderbolt of his own in the form of Louise Blum, a lawyer whom he meets at a party and who could be Anna’s “blond twin.” Louise is married to a prominent scientist, Romain Vidal, whom she’s beginning to find lackluster and boring, while Anna is married to Stan, a prominent ophthalmologist. And while both family situations are complicated by children, amatory instincts begin to overtake the better judgment of the adults. Anna and Yves begin an affair, as do Thomas and Louise. French author Le Tellier occasionally and cleverly crosses the threads of his dual plot—e.g., by having Anna and Louise meet each other accidentally while shopping for clothes. And of course Anna makes her developing relationship with Yves (and deteriorating relationship with Romain) part of her confessional sessions with Le Gall. Tellingly, at one point she says, “ 'if I stay with Yves, I’ll have the life I’m dreaming of,’ ” which Le Gall repeats as, “ 'The life you’re dreaming of. You’re dreaming.’ ” Yves writes a short book based on his liaison with Anna Stein (Forty Memories of Anna Stein), which Le Tellier incorporates as part of his novel. Meanwhile, Romain sets up an appointment with Le Gall under an assumed name and uses this occasion to let the psychiatrist know that Romain is not in the dark about the affair Le Gall is engaged in with his wife.

Le Tellier examines the possibilities of love after 40, and he deals with this issue with patience, understanding and bemusement.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59051-399-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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