A compelling concept, a husband hunt in hostile territory, is weakened by a formulaic plot and a predictable ending.


Forty-one-year-old Samantha Jacobs takes on a daunting challenge—finding a husband in the least singles-friendly city in the nation.

A study has just been released stating that a single woman over 40 has practically no chance of marrying. Furthermore, Minneapolis is the least likely spot for an unmarried woman to land a husband. The editor of a glossy women’s magazine, Trés Chic, sees a unique opportunity to sell magazines and concocts a hair-brained scheme to send her lifestyle editor, Samantha, off to find an enviable husband in infertile lands. Samantha hesitantly accepts the challenge and packs her bags for a Summer in Minnesota. In her quest, she tries every dating option available, including: video-dating, speed-dating, the Internet, newspapers ads and singles volleyball. Hornak does an admirable job capturing the desperation pervading the mature singles scene. Samantha’s dates are quite disappointing: they lie, they neglect to telephone, they lack social graces. Things look pretty grim until Samantha meets a hot prospect through the Single No More dating service. Her match seems too good to be true—he’s handsome, successful and affectionate. Hornak works hard to keep things lively. Just as Samantha envisions herself walking down the aisle with this catch, a juicy complication arises in the guise of a sultry Latin dance instructor, who is all wrong for the assignment. He’s younger, uneducated and possesses none of the trappings of success that Trés Chic readers will expect from this contrived wedding arrangement. Samantha has to decide between listening to her head or her heart. But it’s only on the dance floor, swaying to a salsa beat, that the feels real passion.

A compelling concept, a husband hunt in hostile territory, is weakened by a formulaic plot and a predictable ending.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-425-20548-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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