Energetic promise that slows down to a pedestrian crawl by the close.


Multigenerational saga set in Newfoundland and Ireland with, at its center, an elusive yet captivating family matriarch who was found as a baby shortly after the sinking of the Titanic.

A fisherman rowing home through ice-strewn waters in 1912 discovers an infant in a basket set on the ice. He and his wife name the baby Aurora and adopt her into their home of five sons. Aurora, with her dreamy ways and unusual looks (one eye blue, one brown), is never fully accepted by the majority of the extended family residing in the Newfoundland village of Drook, but she enchants her adoptive parents and her brother Louis. The first quarter of the story, following Aurora’s childhood and youth, is indeed enchanting as it combines Aurora’s veil of mystery with an affectionately realistic re-creation of a village fishing community. The young girl’s romance with the bookish lighthouse keeper Tom Mulloy is equally charming. After Tom and Aurora have two children, their marriage falters under the pressures of parenthood, then reestablishes itself when the children grow up. Unfortunately, neither ambitious Nancy, a historian, nor gentle Stan, an ice engineer, has their mother’s charisma, and, although Clark (Eriksdottir, 1994, etc.) subtly limns those parts of herself that Aurora has passed on to her offspring, her third outing falters in its handling of the conflicts in the adult lives of her descendants. Nancy’s husband is a philanderer; Stan, a virgin until his 30s, loses his unbelievably perfect wife in a diving accident; Nancy’s daughter Sheila, who is particularly close to her grandmother, moves to Ireland and begins searching for clues to Aurora’s ancestry. The tale then moves back in time to the story of Aurora’s middle-class Anglo-Irish mother, who converted and married an Irish-Catholic before attempting to emigrate aboard the Titanic.

Energetic promise that slows down to a pedestrian crawl by the close.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56947-267-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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