Rather than harmonizing disparate scraps, this quilt leaves the highly wrought patches unstitched.

THE GIVING QUILT

Quiltsgiving is a new tradition at Elm Creek Manor, and this November, the women will devote themselves to making quilts for Project Linus, which gathers homemade blankets for needy children. In giving to others, they may heal themselves.

The latest in Chiaverini’s (Sonoma Rose, 2012, etc.) prolific Elm Creek Quilts series finds women gathering at Elm Creek Manor. Focusing on five of the participants, Chiaverini relates each woman’s sufferings in mind-numbing detail. A member of the renowned Cherokee Rose Quilters, Pauline has forsaken her own guild’s retreat to come to the Manor. Although she loves her guild, she cannot understand why one of the other members is so hostile toward her. Hostilities have escalated so far that she is contemplating leaving her beloved guild. Linnea, a librarian, has spent the last months battling Close the Book, an organization intent upon closing her library, and the tempers get hotter every day. Michaela, the youngest quilter at the retreat, arrives on crutches, her ankle ruined and her dreams of professional cheerleading dashed. But was her fall at tryouts an accident or something more sinister? Recently widowed, Jocelyn has stepped into her late husband’s role of coaching their school’s Imagination Quest. Working with the children was fantastic, but possible cheating at the competition troubles her. Karen, one of the most talented quilters, worries that her beloved shop may not survive in the face of Internet stores. The women bond in conversation, telling their stories, detailing their slights and questioning their own reactions. These ironically self-centered women gain much more from Quiltsgiving than they give. Project Linus becomes little more than the backdrop for yet another story about women offering each other support to return home and face their troubles.

Rather than harmonizing disparate scraps, this quilt leaves the highly wrought patches unstitched.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95360-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

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