A genuine family drama that might inspire and encourage other single parents.

A NOBLE PARADISE

A false allegation and a critically injured child destroy a single dad’s picture-perfect family in this novel by Crawford (Mariner Valley, 2012, etc.).

Blue-collar millwright David Nobile (not “Noble,” despite the title) has custody of his two children, Breanna, 9, and Nick, 12. Money is tight, but they’re happy, despite occasional disruptions by Nobile’s self-absorbed, scheming ex, Kim Lecture. The Nobile paradise grows more heavenly after he befriends and starts to fall in love with an up-and-coming musician named Riley Kragen. But after all this happiness is established, conflict kicks in: Lecture, who’s jealous and disapproving of Nobile’s romance with Kragen, plants a false story that he sexually abused his daughter. This sets off family turmoil that culminates in the hospitalization of the children, possibly never to recover. The book succeeds through Crawford’s talent at characterization, dialogue and scene-setting. Nobile is a likable, relatable protagonist, but like his extremely well-behaved children, he seems a bit too perfect: a Joe Sixpack who likes opera, teaches his daughter calligraphy, and has a bookshelf featuring works on “astronomy, history, oceanography, art history, aviation, archeology, architecture and musical history and theory.” Even the questionably named Lecture, for all her pettiness and general awfulness, occasionally draws sympathy, or at least empathy. Finally, and vitally for a book like this, Crawford consistently and plausibly depicts mundane moments, such as a paper-mill workday (“Sweat ran down from under the headband of his hard hat and he blinked tightly every so often to keep it clear of his eyes”) or the logistics and judgments of divorced parenting, without ever losing the reader. The story, which seems to have been inspired by real-life experiences, is never tedious or self-indulgent and may ring true for many readers.

A genuine family drama that might inspire and encourage other single parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

more