Lots of steam but no real heat, from the ever-shameless Collins (Infamous, 1996, etc.).


Clunky potboiler from the former queen of B-movies and TV soaps, starring the descendants of a humble Irish housemaid who reach the heights of Hollywood stardom.

Young Millie McClancey, orphaned by the 1917 influenza epidemic, takes a job in the London house of a duke—and gets noticed by his dissolute son, who can’t resist her flame-red curls, cerulean eyes, and whatnot. Her ruination begins innocently enough: Tobias Swannell, handsome, swaggering heir to the dukedom and all its properties, loves to hear the sweet young thing sing music-hall airs, but her impromptu concerts lead to significant fooling around on the sofa. Pregnant and disgraced, Millie is cast out by the stern butler, then befriended by an elderly (and fortunately homosexual) theater producer, who puts her on the stage and arranges for someone else to care for her illegitimate daughter. Soon the toast of London and then New York, Millie throws all her energy into her career, warbling away in near-nudity and thrilling audiences that include sexy gangster Marco Novello. Millie’s inevitable slide into drink and depression—and her mysterious death in an explosion—put her daughter Vickie next in line for stardom, aided by Marco. Not getting the role of Scarlett O’Hara is a setback, but pin-up fame during WWII awaits, plus innumerable parts in lousy movies. Much-married Vickie moves on to the perverted grandson of the dissolute duke, not knowing that there’s an incestuous link. Her daughter Lulu, sired by the love of her life (a Gary Cooper clone), becomes a world-famous model known for her sultry sensuality and lesbian affairs. As a child, she accidentally saw the Cooper clone banging away lustily at her naked Mummy, turning her off men forever—except for one hot night with a paid superstud, resulting in a daughter, also Millie, who becomes an overnight rock superstar at 14.

Lots of steam but no real heat, from the ever-shameless Collins (Infamous, 1996, etc.).

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2002

ISBN: 1-4013-0000-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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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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