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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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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