SOLDIER'S WIFE

Eminently skimmable.

An English military wife has difficulty adjusting to her husband’s return from Afghanistan.

When Alexa’s husband, Dan, a career British Army officer, returns from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, she expects his re-entry to be awkward. However she’s surprised when, instead of relishing his reunion with his wife, twin toddler daughters and teenage stepdaughter, he spends most of his time on base, helping soldiers in his battalion readjust from extended home leave. Alexa, who carries baggage from her own upbringing as the only child of distant parents in the diplomatic corps, can’t communicate her frustrations to Dan without starting an argument. Compounding her plight, Alexa's daughter Isabel is a virtual outcast at her government-sponsored boarding school, where she’s been accused of stealing from another girl. Alexa is also running interference on Dan’s behalf with his father and grandfather (old soldiers themselves) because he’s not ready to deal with his extended family. Worse, because of the uncertainty of Dan’s next assignment, she’s had to turn down a job with a private school that would have accepted Isabel. Instead of facing his marital difficulties, Dan brings his comrade Gus (whose wife, by walking out, has done what Alexa can only fantasize about) home to live until Gus weathers his rough patch. When Isabel goes AWOL from school and returns home, Dan and Alexa must confront the unstable core of their military family. Dan has apparently been affected by the horrors of battle, but aside from ducking at the sound of a woodpecker and talking in his sleep, this has to be one of the more muted descriptions of post-traumatic stress in modern post-warfare fiction. Trollope is less than sure-handed in her handling of this subject matter, preferring to prevaricate with endless and repetitive dialogue and rumination about the challenges of re-entering the democratic society and domestic tranquility soldiers are sworn to protect.  The couple's emotional reckoning is more thoroughly articulated later, but the tedium of getting to that point is daunting.

Eminently skimmable.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7251-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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