The competing styles—chatty friendships, shopping, middle-aged enlightenment and crime/suspense—make for a disjointed read.

DUNE ROAD

British author Green (The Beach House, 2008, etc.) has moved from England to Connecticut, and her novel’s heroines have fallen suit.

Exit the chippy London career girl looking for love and a sample sale, enter the New England mother questioning whether there is a bit more to life than the requisite diamond-stud earrings and showcase country house. This is what Kit wondered before she divorced Adam, but now two years later, she is finally fulfilled. The mansion, and the prestige of being married to one of Wall Street’s players, is gone. Still, in Highfield (think Greenwich), the mansion has been replaced with a charming house a few blocks from Main Street, and she now has an eccentric and perfectly indispensable new neighbor in octogenarian Edie. Best yet, she has a great job as personal assistant to Robert McClore (think Tom Clancy). The kids have adjusted, her friends Charlie and Tracy are lovely. In fact, everything is terrific. Until it isn’t. There are clouds on the horizon: America’s financial crisis is about to hit this community hard; Tracy begins to woo Robert (his first wife, a wild-child model, died in a boating accident—or was it?— in the swinging ’70s); and Annabel, a British half-sister Kit has just found out about, shows up. Green’s novel begins lightly and then shifts gears, producing a kind of thriller-lite effect. A few key players have some nasty intentions, and Kit has to sort it all out. Meanwhile, she is trying to decide if her new romantic interest (the dishy Steve, who is literally too good to be true) can compare with Adam, whom she is beginning to think she still loves. Green has some good fun with the shallow lifestyles of the ladies who lunch, and by the end the greedy are punished and the good (that would be Kit) prevail.

The competing styles—chatty friendships, shopping, middle-aged enlightenment and crime/suspense—make for a disjointed read.

Pub Date: June 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02086-7

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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

BAREFOOT

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.

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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