The long-awaited climax, though heart-rending, is too anticlimactic to resolve the knotty problems the story has posed. But...


Slow-motion calamity awaits a girl in occupied France who falls in love with a member of the occupying army.

Adele Georges is only looking for news of her father, a Popular Front organizer who’s vanished from Arras, where he served in the medical corps. Manfred Halder, the sympathetic clerk who tries to help her get information, is only looking for a separate peace that doesn’t involve combat. But Rouen in 1941 is neither the time nor the place for these star-crossed lovers. For three years Adele struggles to keep her affair from both the Gestapo and her brother René, who’d think nothing of killing the German corporal who seduced his sister. The Allied invasion of 1944 promises liberation for her country but a fresh round of misery for Adele, reviled as a “horizontal collaborator” and torn from her family, home and lover, who’s been shipped to the Eastern Front. Nichol (Midnight Cab, 2004) presents the can’t-miss melodrama of Adele’s futile search for Manfred and her suffering as she caroms from one horror story to the next with an eye as sensitive to petty humiliations as to life-changing catastrophes, and the result is an odyssey as piercing in its details as it is familiar in its outline. Interspersed flash-forwards to the little town of Paris, Ontario, in 1946, add an additional layer of doom with the discovery of a human finger, then the decaying corpse it belongs to. Who is the man who’s been shot execution-style, and how is his fate connected to Adele’s? Suspense mounts as local police chief Jack Cullen makes the obligatory round of inquiries and Adele’s marriage to a troubled Canadian veteran draws the two stories inexorably together.

The long-awaited climax, though heart-rending, is too anticlimactic to resolve the knotty problems the story has posed. But Nichol makes a persuasive case that it couldn’t possibly have done so no matter what.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-178231-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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