The sensibility behind this comic novel by the author of The Kitchen Man (1985) is all It's a Wonderful Life, but updated to account for today's divorce rate, sexual liberation, compulsive career grubbing, and good kids who nonetheless pierce each ear five times. So here Wood serves up a modern family, headed by Corey Richardson, a computer-biz entrepreneur on the verge of putting his infant Camelot Software Systems on the map. Of course, 20- hour days begin taking their toll on Corey's home life, though his slightly overweight but gutsy wife, Angela, hangs tough. Privately, she doesn't care whether they ever have enough money to send their daughter, Foxie, to private school or redecorate their ramshackle Boston house. Increasingly, however, Corey does, particularly when a venture capitalist helps him realize his dreams for Camelot. Success affects his libido as well, drawing him into an affair with ambitious young Marla, who unlike Angela dresses well and likes to eat out. A nasty divorce ensues, which ultimately gives Angela the chance to date a Celtics star and become a free-lance photographer. Five years pass, things at Camelot go stale, and Corey finds out that Marla has been playing around with a younger man. So what's a good guy like Corey to do, except start looking at Angela with fresh eyes? The resulta second shot for the Richardson marriageis all too predictable, and the book would have benefitted from a rigorous editing. But the characters are quirky and mostly lovable, and the moral underpinnings as wholesome as apple pie, making this a sweet bet of a love story for the Reader's Digest crowd.

Pub Date: May 31, 1991

ISBN: 0-944072-15-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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