A slow buildup to a breathtaking finish.

PEACHES FOR FATHER FRANCIS

Eight years after the events in Harris’ best-selling Chocolat (1999, etc.), her heroine is summoned back to the French village she once revitalized with confections.

Vianne Rocher is living in Paris on a houseboat with her husband, Roux, and daughters, Anouk and Rosette, when a posthumous letter arrives from Armande, the crusty old lady who had been her ally in upsetting the straight-laced mores of Lansquenet. This tiny hamlet once more needs Vianne’s intervention, Armande writes, without specifying exactly what is amiss. When Vianne arrives, she is surprised to learn the person most in need of rescue is her erstwhile antagonist, the tightly wound, chocolate-hating Monsieur le Curé Francis Reynaud. As parish pastor, Reynaud has been supplanted by a young, smug priest who wants to turn Mass into a PowerPoint presentation and replace the church’s old oaken pews with plastic chairs. The Bishop has not been pleased since rumors started circulating that Reynaud set fire to a school for Muslim girls housed in Vianne’s former candy shop. Reynaud is suspect because he clashed with the Imam of Les Marauds, Lansquenet’s Muslim neighborhood, over the installation of a minaret complete with call to prayer. The school’s founder, Inès Bencharki, whose brother, Karim, is the Imam’s son-in-law, has, along with her charismatic sibling, introduced Muslim fundamentalism into previously free-wheeling Les Marauds, requiring her pupils to veil themselves. Vianne is drawn into the fray when she takes in Alyssa, the Imam’s granddaughter, whom Reynaud saved from drowning herself. As they forge a gingerly alliance, Reynaud and Vianne suspect that Inès and Karim are hiding something, and those secrets, when revealed, are shocking. While Harris’ loving attention to the details of cuisine, French and Moroccan, and the daily lives of the eccentric village characters conveys a certain charm, the indolent pace of the novel doesn’t accelerate until the puzzle explodes with incandescent intensity near the end. The patient reader, however, will be amply rewarded.

A slow buildup to a breathtaking finish.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02636-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

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. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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