Invisible Scars

In this novel, a beautiful, wealthy Texas woman falls in love with a married member of Spanish nobility.
America Jane Harvey, a tall Texan, is being detained by Spanish authorities, with plenty of time to contemplate the last 12 years of her life—“From castles in Spain to a Spanish prison.” The novel then examines the choices that led her there. After her young child died in 1971, America escaped into her work as a professional jet pilot. She built up a courier service into a thriving business and, in Spain to attend her best friend’s wedding, met Alfonso, the Duke of the Castle of Tarifa. A respected banker with a wife and eight children, Alfonso explained that his was a marriage of convenience, and he and America began a passionate affair. The Boyars (co-authors Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., 2012, etc.) describe Alfonso’s background, his trauma suffered in the Spanish Civil War and the development of the couple’s affair against the backdrop of developments in post-Franco Spain, including some legal shenanigans having to do with moving cash out of the country. The sympathies here tend to be reactionary: “[T]here was no drug problem in Spain because of a mandatory throw-away-the-key seven years in prison for anyone caught entering the country with even one marijuana cigarette,” the Boyars note rather approvingly. They also discuss Spanish court protocol with respect: Spanish society members “were all Grandees, almost two hundred of them, Dukes and Duchesses because Dukedoms automatically carried grandeza, plus various Barons, Counts and Marquis whose titles had been given grandeza by the King who had bestowed them. The table seating was always according to Court Protocol, the importance and age of a title being the arbiter.” For some readers, the obsession with status, money and power will be tiresome, while others will enjoy the wish-fulfillment aspects of America’s and Alfonso’s lifestyles in the 1 percent.

A tale of surviving and prospering amid the hardships of fortune.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0971039254

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Marbella House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

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

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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

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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