Despite some witty banter, there is little to distinguish this book, or Eden as a character, from others of the chick-lit...


Iconic muse of the New York City art scene contemplates cougardom as 40 looms.

Eden is sure her ethereal beauty will be her ticket out of her backwater hometown. Drawn to Manhattan by the lure of a modeling career, the fetching high-school dropout, after a brief stint as head groupie to a rock star, latches on to Wes, a sensitive, bespectacled architecture student. Soon, however, an older man, Otto, a painter at the top of the art heap, notices 19-year-old Eden and whisks her away to his rarified world of international jetsetters, well-heeled collectors and post-Warhol hedonism. Otto paints Eden in various states of undress, and, overnight, she’s a worldwide sensation, beating out Demi Moore for glossy cover space. Otto and Eden cohabit, travel the world and produce a son, but they never marry. Through it all, Eden turns to her trash-talking high-school buddy Allison for moral support. Allison’s fluency in the latest argot, and her role as cynical foil to Eden’s at times enervating guilelessness, enliven the book, but not often enough. When Otto seduces his latest dewy assistant, Eden storms out, heading uptown, where her looks, still holding at 39, net another conquest: Chase, scion of old-money Upper East Siders, handsome enough to flummox an entire gay bar even if he’s only there for Broadway Karaoke. He falls hard for Eden, although she’s 12 years older, scandalizing his mother Brooke. His grandmother Ruthie urges Chase to bust out of his noblesse oblige and throw off the yoke of Brooke and his “Hitchcock blonde” girlfriend Liesel, whom Chase has kept hankering after the diamond in Ruthie’s vault way too long. When Liesel dumps him, Chase’s path to Eden is clear, but a chance encounter reopens Eden’s roads not taken, with predictable results.

Despite some witty banter, there is little to distinguish this book, or Eden as a character, from others of the chick-lit genre.

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-95159-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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

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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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Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters...


Female rivalry is again the main preoccupation of Hannah’s latest Pacific Northwest sob saga (Firefly Lane, 2008, etc.).

At Water’s Edge, the family seat overlooking Hood Canal, Vivi Ann, youngest and prettiest of the Grey sisters and a champion horsewoman, has persuaded embittered patriarch Henry to turn the tumbledown ranch into a Western-style equestrian arena. Eldest sister Winona, a respected lawyer in the nearby village of Oyster Shores, hires taciturn ranch hand Dallas Raintree, a half-Native American. Middle sister Aurora, stay-at-home mother of twins, languishes in a dull marriage. Winona, overweight since adolescence, envies Vivi, whose looks get her everything she wants, especially men. Indeed, Winona’s childhood crush Luke recently proposed to Vivi. Despite Aurora’s urging (her principal role is as sisterly referee), Winona won’t tell Vivi she loves Luke. Yearning for Dallas, Vivi stands up Luke to fall into bed with the enigmatic, tattooed cowboy. Winona snitches to Luke: engagement off. Vivi marries Dallas over Henry’s objections. The love-match triumphs, and Dallas, though scarred by child abuse, is an exemplary father to son Noah. One Christmas Eve, the town floozy is raped and murdered. An eyewitness and forensic evidence incriminate Dallas. Winona refuses to represent him, consigning him to the inept services of a public defender. After a guilty verdict, he’s sentenced to life without parole. A decade later, Winona has reached an uneasy truce with Vivi, who’s still pining for Dallas. Noah is a sullen teen, Aurora a brittle but resigned divorcée. Noah learns about the Seattle Innocence Project. Could modern DNA testing methods exonerate Dallas? Will Aunt Winona redeem herself by reopening the case? The outcome, while predictable, is achieved with more suspense and less sentimental histrionics than usual for Hannah.

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters and understanding of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36410-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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