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

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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

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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