A bit much, truth be told, what with all those swelling emotions, soldierly love letters, and lyrical quotes from WWII’s...

GRACE

Unabashedly romantic fiction from the author of Dance a Little Longer (1993), this time about a small-town enchantress and her swains, circa 1944.

The few men and boys in Cold Springs, Texas, who haven’t been drafted are madly in love with Grace Gillian, but they all prefer to admire her sensual, careless beauty from a safe distance. Even John Appleby, a handsome widower with whom she shared a night of blissful passion, now keeps her at arm’s length. Grace can’t understand it any more than she can understand why her husband, Bucy, abandoned her without a word of explanation. Everyone seems to think she’s just too different somehow. Why, she painted her house an outrageous shade of turquoise, and she’s forever quoting poetry to the dazzled teenagers in her English class—that’s enough to arouse suspicion right there. Young Bobby Moore has a conspicuous crush on her, and so does his respectable father, not that Robert Moore IV would ever admit it to his wife, a free spirit in her own right and a Yankee to boot. Crisscrossing subplots emerge here, involving Bobby’s unrequited love for the girl next door and his father’s callous disregard for the family’s much-loved black maid, who can’t afford the surgery she needs. Grace is too preoccupied by her feelings for John to notice much of this; she’s annoyed by his standoffishness and his sudden decision to join the Army. On impulse, she takes the train to New York to find her errant husband and meets a dashing military man en route. Smitten Sgt. Dan Manning vows to return for Grace by war’s end. Shortly thereafter, Bucy agrees to a divorce. But here’s the quandary: John Appleby corresponds faithfully, but his dispassionate, careful tone irks Grace. Looks like Dan’s her man, but will he survive to make her his?

A bit much, truth be told, what with all those swelling emotions, soldierly love letters, and lyrical quotes from WWII’s greatest hits.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-94602-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

more