HIGH LATITUDES

Accumulating prizes and accolades for two previous novels in his native Britain, Buchan (A Parish of Rich Women, 1985; The Golden Plough, 1995) has yet to find similar attention here, and this tale of frustrated romance and bad business in Thatcherland will help his case only slightly. It's 1987, and the beautiful and eminently capable Jane Haddon is the queen of undergarments, having rescued yet another failing British industry from oblivion by dint of her own drive and acumen. But her miracle-working touch is about to suffer its severest test— in persuading the women who work in an aging bra-factory outside Glasgow to exchange part of their wages for company shares or face losing their jobs. Meanwhile, Jane's personal life, on ice since she divorced her aloof aristocrat husband years before, shows little evidence of thawing, since she still loves the cad; but when he's marooned on a glacier in Antarctica (where he's flown to give himself something to do), he rediscovers his love for her, saves himself, and returns to England, only to find that he faces financial ruin. As a ``Name'' at Lloyd's, he bears the brunt of insurance reversals; one such event leaves him nearly bankrupt, whereupon his money-loving wife leaves him. Jane can't help him much because her bra ladies have gone on strike just as details of her own sordid past—heroin addiction, working-class origins, etc.- -turn her from a media darling into a pariah without peer. Nevertheless, she and her lord manage to offer each other some consolation, eventually finding their way back to his favorite spot on earth (the glacier), although by that time he's just a corpse wrapped in a parachute. To be sure, the sordid details of late-'80s convulsive capitalism are used here to form a precise, withering critique of Thatcher's England. But this dissection of British corporate life and its practitioners leaves scant room for more human touches that would make something other than icily insightful.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-16999-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

more