A smoothly written tale about deep faith leading to love and self-understanding, hampered by sometimes-unsympathetic...

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TRINIDAD HEAD, CA

In Clark’s debut romance novel, a young widow, bolstered by her religious faith, discovers new love and finds out what jealousy can drive people to do.

Annie MacKerricher, a 33-year-old scarf designer, is widowed when Jorge Reyes, a member of a local gang, robs and kills her husband, Sean, during his jog in Manhattan Beach, California. As Annie awaits Reyes’ trial to start, she begins coming to grips with how she felt invisible in her marriage—much like her grandmother’s teapot had been “out of sight” in her own home. On a trip to California’s North Coast with her sister and her family, she sees Trinidad Head, a massive outcropping off the coast, which leads her to the nearby town of Trinidad. There, she experiences a sense of déjà vu, and her eyes lock in mysterious recognition with a “thirtyish,” “handsome fisherman/artist” named Forrest Hammond. Trinidad makes her feel a “desire to rediscover herself.” After she obtains closure at Reyes’ sentencing, she moves to the new town, and just in time—because Reyes has marked her for revenge. However, even his threat pales next to the seething jealousy of Forrest’s former flame, the beautiful, red-haired Riatta Lutz. Meanwhile, Annie’s faith sustains her through these troubled waters. Throughout, Clark’s prose is as fluid as the setting: “Several sailboats were out with their colorful sails unfurled, gracefully gliding through the channel on their way out to sea.” Although the slow-building romance between Forrest and Annie is the story’s focus, the core theme of the work is “a woman’s courage to fail in life and begin anew.” The scenes of intimacy are chaste; Forrest feels “electricity surge between them” as he helps Annie undress after she’s injured, but for Annie, such passion can only exist in marriage. Some readers may find that Annie’s harsh judgment sounds a sour note: “I see a soul presently unredeemable,” she says to Reyes at his sentencing. She also aims her moral certitude at Forrest, just as they are beginning their relationship, which may cause some to lose sympathy for her.

A smoothly written tale about deep faith leading to love and self-understanding, hampered by sometimes-unsympathetic characterization.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5484-0470-3

Page Count: 330

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2017

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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