McCorkle's fifth novel (and sixth book, including a fine collection, Crash Diet, 1992) is a narrative gem that emanates dramatic heat, southern-gothic light, and an uncanny emotional wisdom. The sixtysomething heroine, Queen Mary Stutts Purdy, called Quee, has just opened a smoking rehab in her house in Fulton, North Carolina, a little town ``halfway between the river and the ocean.'' This is the latest of Quee's many businesses, and she's assembled the usual motley assortment of helpers: Alicia Jameson, long-suffering wife of the town's loudmouthed, fast-living radio deejay, Jones Jameson, who has disappeared; Tom Lowe, a handsome, kindhearted ne'er-do-well carpenter whose father committed suicide when Tom was ten; and Denny, Quee's 30-something goddaughter, who has fled her elderly, pedantic husband in Virginia and is acting as the rehab therapist. Quee and the gang are developing an enviable record for curing smokers when Alicia's husband's decaying body suddenly washes up from the river and is mysteriously delivered in a load of gardening topsoil to the town's rich, friendless widow, Myra Carter, who is bitter because she suspects that Quee and her deceased husband, Howard, a physician, had an affair. (In fact, together, Quee and Howard were performing abortions for the town's poor girls; Quee was actually having an affair with Tom Lowe's father, and she has been searching for the missing scraps of his suicide note since his death 25 years ago.) As the surprising details of Jones Jameson's murder begin to emerge, the novel's romantic focus shifts to the present: Tom falls in love with Denny; Rob, the sweet but shambling town policeman, begins to court Alicia; Myra falls in love anew with the memory of her husband; and Quee, the benevolent puppeteer and magician in the town's affairs, finally finds Tom's father's suicide note (in Tom's wallet) and revolutionizes her view of her own profoundly engaged life. And everyone who wants to quits smoking. A truly delightful read. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56512-136-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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