A rushed and incident-filled first novel about Kate Elder, lover of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, told from the woman's point of view. This time out, Coleman (Discovering Eve, etc; the nonfiction Shadow in My Hands, 1993) simulates oral history in a story she culled from period diaries, research, and interviews with Kate Elder's relatives. This frontier woman, born Mary Katharine Harony, travels with her parents from Hungary to Mexico, and then to Kansas. In 1866, her parents die, and young Mary is given into the care of a nearby farmer. When her guardian rapes her, she kills him and flees to St. Louis before heading west. There, Kate marries a gambler named Silas, but the marriage ends when both he and her son die of the plague. Shortly thereafter, she meets Doc. ``You look like hell in black,'' he tells her, but Kate's taken with his tubercular brand of humor and falls in love. Later, she'll kill a deranged man in self-defense, whereupon Doc hides her, becomes her lover, and arranges for her to flee to Wichita with a man who's then killed. Enter Wyatt Earp, his blue eyes as piercing as steel, who introduces her to local madam Honest Bessie. After a brief stint as a prostitute, Mary Harony, now known as either Kate Elder or Big Nose Kate, eventually makes her way back to Doc: ``I could never make our separations stick,'' she says. Together, they travel through Indian Territory on the standard western tour until Doc hooks up with Earp (each was ``part of the other's destiny'') and they do the deed to the Clantons at the OK Corral. Only Kate lives to tell the tale. In the fast, flushed tone of a memoir, Coleman limns the familiar Wild West saga with a feminist slant. This isn't revisionist history exactly, but, rather, a workmanlike treatment of a period of perpetual interest.

Pub Date: May 11, 1995

ISBN: 0-446-51825-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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