A perfect beach read about a family crisis resolved by women.

BLUSH

What can we learn from the glitzy novels of the 1980s? As Vivian, Leah, and Sadie are about to learn, quite a bit.

As in the heyday of sex-and-shopping novelists Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, and Nora Roberts, Brenner draws together a multigenerational cast of characters, each of whom has been slighted by fate. Vivian is the matriarch of the Hollander family, and, with her husband, Leonard, she has spent decades building up a successful vineyard and winery out of the difficult Cutchogue, New York, soil. Well, at least Leonard gets the credit for it while she was long ago pushed into building a family and a beautiful house and, briefly, a "trashy novel book club." As a child, Leah longed to join the book club, too, but Vivian snatched the torrid novels out of her daughter’s hands. As a young woman, Leah longed to join the family business, but her father chauvinistically chose her slacker brother, Asher, instead. Now in her late 40s, Leah runs a successful Manhattan cheese shop and has raised her own daughter, Sadie, now a college senior. Sadie, too, has had her hopes dashed, not only by her boring, athletic boyfriend, but also by her adviser, who may have to drop her from the honors program if she doesn’t nail down her thesis topic soon. Gathered at the family vineyard for an important announcement, the women are devastated to learn that Leonard must sell the entire estate. As each struggles to find her own way to stop the sale, they unexpectedly rediscover the pleasures not only of trashy novels, but also of talking to each other. Although the storyline is a bit predictable, Brenner deftly pulls from the canon for steamy encounters and dramatic confrontations—some worthy of a Dynasty reboot.

A perfect beach read about a family crisis resolved by women.

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08575-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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