Warm and welcoming fiction that should benefit from some very strong word-of-mouth.



A New York architect loses her job and falls in love—in this spry little Brooklyn-set romance.

One thing among many that sets Jane Larsen apart from so many modern female protagonists is the refreshing lack of neuroses. Not to mention a purpose in her life. To wit: She isn’t happy with her fortysomething body but no more so than is to be expected. She doesn’t work at a glossy magazine, clocking in every day for over two decades at a Manhattan architectural firm instead. She’s got two teenaged daughters on the verge of becoming true hellions, an ex-husband who’s not exactly what she wanted (thus the divorce) but a decent enough father, and a gorgeous Park Slope brownstone that she restored herself. The complication in Jane’s life is not a midlife crisis—though she does have a certain lack of drive these days—but a much more practical concern: She just got fired. Stepping quite ably into the gap, Jane’s best friend Peggy sets her up with a guy who’s devastatingly handsome, adores Jane and, happily enough, needs a house designed. The fact that this is all just too neat should come as no surprise. More out of left field is the friendship Jane has just renewed with an old college flame, Jack, a fellow architect, via e-mail. Jane and Jack stumble toward romance in their increasingly passionate and revealing letters while, meantime, Jane tries to figure out what she’s going to do with her life. Perhaps after finishing the just-too-pat ending, some readers may think that they’ve been had, that Fields (Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, 1997, etc.) tricked them into thinking she was going to deliver a more serious and meaningful piece of work. But Fields has such a smooth, knowing way with her characters—only very occasionally slipping into melodrama—that it’s easy to let her get away with just about everything.

Warm and welcoming fiction that should benefit from some very strong word-of-mouth.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-14590-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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