While not all the pieces are of equal quality, the collection as a whole is further proof that its daring, protean author’s...

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DAVID GOLDER, THE BALL, SNOW IN AUTUMN, THE COURILOF AFFAIR

Four works of fiction, three available in English for the first time, by the Russo-French author and Auschwitz victim whose fame was resurrected with the long-lost Suite Française (2006).

The appealing Snow in Autumn, a poignant portrait of often unappreciated devotion in a topsy-turvy world, concerns Tatiana, an old nanny who has worked for rich Russian landowners her entire life. The revolution forces the family to flee; Tatiana follows them to Paris, for they are her people; her dead husband and child barely rate a mention. Less appealing is The Ball, which concerns the plan of an unpleasant, nouveau-riche Parisian couple to launch themselves into society through a ball. Their scheme is foiled by their mistreated 14-year-old daughter, who destroys the invitations, but the destruction is rather contrived. David Golder is the novella that made Némirovsky famous. The eponymous Golder is an old, wealthy oil speculator, an odious Russian Jew transplanted to Paris. After rejecting his longtime partner’s plea for help and driving him to suicide, he joins his family, loathsome parasites, in Biarritz. The story pulses with a passionate misanthropy, tinged with anti-Semitism (an assimilated Jew, Némirovsky eventually converted to Catholicism). It’s crude, yes, but forceful and memorable. Finally there is The Courilof Affair. Of particular interest in our terror-sensitive times, it’s the memoir of a former revolutionary terrorist, now disenchanted. Logna, the son of Russian terrorists, is raised in Switzerland. In 1903, the young man is sent to St. Petersburg to assassinate Courilof, the brutal Minister of Education. Logna infiltrates the household by posing as a doctor (Courilof has liver cancer). In a variation on the Stockholm Syndrome, the terrorist softens towards his enemy, for the Minister has endearing qualities. Replete with ironies, this is the standout work.

While not all the pieces are of equal quality, the collection as a whole is further proof that its daring, protean author’s wretched death was indeed a loss to literature.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-26708-5

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Everyman’s Library

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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