A sometimes provoking meditation on the elusiveness of genius and desire that’s also, all too often, no more illuminating...


A retelling of the love story between Robert and Clara Schumann that owes less to The Barretts of Wimpole Street than to Raging Bull.

At curtain’s rise, the dying composer, committed to a mental asylum after throwing himself into the Rhine, is looking back over the ruins of his life. A survey of the facts reveals a familiar story—Romantic artist with no financial prospects woos and wins prodigiously talented bride away from autocratic father before going on to his own well-remembered success—which Landis (Lying in Bed, 1995) updates by brushing off the powdered sugar. Schumann often did behave as dissolutely as the outraged Friedrich Wieck claimed. He scattered his love broadcast, even after he’d met the nine-year-old Clara and become her father’s live-in piano pupil. And, mainly because his wife, not he, enjoyed a career as a virtuoso, he never won the public acclaim accorded his contemporaries Paganini, Chopin, Mendelssohn, or Liszt (all of whom make important appearances here) or his protégé Brahms (the obligatory third party, hopelessly but platonically in love with Clara, in any fictional treatment of the couple). Although Landis paints a harrowing picture of Schumann’s final disintegration, however, his determination to paint his musical world in such detail prevents him from ever focusing on the composer at work, or, more damagingly, from creating a convincing romance between him and Clara: He marches dutifully through each new stage of their intoxicatingly progressive intimacy without ever earning the changes he chronicles. And Landis’s incessant factual footnotes on everything from the Sacher Torte to the Third Reich, presumably intended as postmodern thumbs in the eye of Romantic biography, come across as pedestrian and sappy.

A sometimes provoking meditation on the elusiveness of genius and desire that’s also, all too often, no more illuminating than a late-night rerun of Song of Love minus Paul Henreid, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Walker. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-100453-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.


Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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