In this impressive novel, Page is at home on the estuaries around the North Sea, on a journey across America and in the...

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SEA CHANGE

A lyrical and elegiac novel about a real past and an imagined future.

A family tragedy forces Guy, the main character, to relocate on an old Dutch ship, the Flood, a 90-foot coastal barge on which he lives. The tragedy occurs when Guy, his wife Judy and his young daughter Freya are picnicking in a field on a “perfect” day. Something freakish and unimaginable happens—a loose stallion wildly attacks them and tramples Freya. Three months after, after they come close to completing a double suicide out of despair, this incident leads to the breakup of Guy and Judy’s marriage. Guy spends the next five years of his life roaming about the North Sea area on the Flood. Each night he lovingly crafts a fantasy life in his diary, imagining himself into the life that might have been had Freya not died and his marriage not collapsed. Page (Salt, 2007) alternates his narrative between Guy’s dismal present—the cold, damp, windy and occasionally treacherous conditions of life on the sea—and the deeply personal imaginative projection of the life-that-might-have-been, including a trip across America and a Nashville recording session for Judy. His life on the ship is complicated when he meets Marta, an attractive woman with a gorgeous 22-year-old daughter, Rhona. Both women are attracted to Guy, but he finds himself in a curious chronological limbo, for he’s ten years younger than Marta and 15 years older than her daughter. Both relationships verge on the sexual but never quite get there. Meanwhile, in Guy’s diary all is not well, for Judy begins an affair with Phil, a musician who’d played in a folk band with both Guy and Judy—and it turns out that Guy’s imagined version of events mirrors what actually happens in his life.

In this impressive novel, Page is at home on the estuaries around the North Sea, on a journey across America and in the lonely spaces in family relationships. 

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-02190-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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