This well-written work benefits from the heroine’s admirable willingness to examine herself honestly.

Split Rock

A NOVEL

In this debut novel, a married woman confronts her might-have-beens and searches for her true self.

Annie Tucker, her husband, Gordon, and their three young children have spent many peripatetic years in Asia as Gordon climbed the career ladder. Now, in 1997, with the handover of Hong Kong approaching, they’ve moved back to the United States and are decamping to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer to stay in the small house left to Annie by her beloved Aunt Faye. Annie possesses many warm memories of the island’s beauty—and of Chase St. Clair, the former love of her life. When Gordon is called back to Hong Kong to deal with an emergency lasting weeks, perfectionist Annie must manage things, and soon becomes overwhelmed by the difficulties of life without a nanny or an instant expatriate community. When Annie nearly drowns after getting caught in a riptide and tells Gordon, significantly toning down the story, he doesn’t seem to listen, hurting her feelings. Vulnerable from the scare and sad about Faye, Annie runs into Chase (still handsome, still broad-shouldered, now married with kids), and strong emotions are stirred in both. Annie must figure out how real her feelings are for Chase; in the meantime, she makes some friends, acquires a dog and a mother’s helper, and faces down her now biggest fear: the ocean. In the process, she becomes more accepting of life’s cracks and imperfections. In her novel, Eger shows herself to be an intelligent, sensitive storyteller with a strong sense of place, vividly evoking the Vineyard’s residents, landmarks, shops, and atmosphere. She writes dialogue, creates characters, and develops her tale with great skill. But Annie’s life is so privileged that her very mild conflicts can fail to engage the reader. As she admits, “A lot of women would kill to have my problems.” Perhaps on this account, Eger gins up drama with Annie’s second dangerous swim; unlike so much of the book, which unfolds more naturally, this episode feels like contrived, forced redemption—even ending with an all-too-symbolic rainbow.

This well-written work benefits from the heroine’s admirable willingness to examine herself honestly. 

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978351-0-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Conzett Verlag

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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