Chase's first collection displays the same subtlety and grace that distinguish her lyrical novels (During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, 1983; The Evening Wolves, 1989) from most other fiction about domestic life. There's nothing formulaic or predictable about these 11 nuanced tales about girls growing into their sexuality, women troubled by bad marriages, and men possessed by dreams of a better life. The young narrator of ``Aunt Josie'' learns about masculine desire and feminine wile by watching her beautiful and entrancing aunt, who lives at a state farm for boys where her husband is the athletic director and her niece visits for the summer. In ``J.C. Peach,'' an adolescent girl, infatuated with a more self-possessed classmate, shares with her the bond of their first periods. Slightly older, the 16-year-old narrator of ``Elderberries and Souls'' has a wild crush on her stepuncle until his dark moodiness sends her running back to her loyal beau, a less complex fellow her own age. In ``The Harrier,'' a married woman ``in a mist of yearning'' lusts for a local artist/mechanic, a younger man much closer to nature and more at peace with himself than her insensitive husband. Divorced women overcome self-pity and guilt in encounters with people worse off than they in ``Crowing'' and ``Ghost Dance.'' In ``Black Ice,'' a wife separated from her husband reviews on the phone their history of car accidents after he's survived a dramatic one alone. Chase's men are often driven by a fear of failure and a vision of a simpler life: the grandfather/defense-analyst in ``The Whole of the World'' must prove he's a better woodsman than his sons-in-law; the manic husband in ``An Energy Crisis'' changes his grand scheme with each job transfer; and the prep-school teacher in ``Jack Pine Savage,'' having abandoned his Ph.D. for the exigencies of a family, dreams of life as a French trapper in Canada. The title story, about life in a lower-middle-class housing development, is typical of Chase's superior storytelling skills—it's so multidimensional it resists paraphrase. Once again, Chase brings extraordinary elegance and imagination to everyday realism.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-374-11539-7

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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