The fates, in this posthumous novel by Hobhouse (November, 1986; Dancing in the Dark, 1983, etc.), are challenged—and if not chastened, at least subdued—as a young woman confronts a family legacy of abandonment. Narrator Helen is the last of a long line of women in a New York family who've left home because they hated their mothers, with varying success trying to make their own lives. Daughter of the beautiful Bett, who quarreled with her mother, Emma, and then made a brief marriage to an Englishman, Helen recalls a childhood spent avoiding her mother's creditors; a Dickensian boarding school; Bett's depressions, and her inability to hold a job or a man for long. Loving her mother deeply and uncritically, Helen tries to protect Bett, but adolescence, always the bad fairy, changes things. Irritated by her mother, who now seems merely pathetic, Helen goes to England to live with her father—an event that begins a lengthy period of bi-continental living: she attends Oxford, falls in love with the brilliant, wealthy Edward, returns to New York and Bett, but then it's back to Edward and London. Helen marries Edward, who joins the wanderings; writes books; and tries to cope with Bett, who's increasingly depressed. After Bett's suicide, Helen suffers a number of bizarre accidents, divorces Edward, and feels that Bett, even in death, is making claims on her (``I was Bett's sister/daughter again, dark, depressed, and eventually suicidal''). But winter on Cape Cod, and a near-fatal brush with cancer, bring peace—and an epiphany of bathetic familiarity: ``I'd loved a lot, and I'd been loved, and in the end that was all that mattered.'' Elegant writing, but, sadly, Hobhouse, better at telling than showing, has written a novel of just ideas—and not much else.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-24547-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet