A sensitively rendered story about the impact of the past on the future, and about the morally clarifying effects of war.

Whisper In My Ear

Three young Americans, haunted and buoyed by family legacies, meet during the Vietnam War in this debut historical novel.

In the 1960s, Dion Murphy is a star middle linebacker descended from a long line of soldiers dating back to the Civil War. He desperately wants to live up to their accomplishments and the family’s reputation for honor, so he stays at Bryant Military Academy, where his relatives went, even after he’s accepted into the considerably more prestigious West Point; later, he turns down a chance at a pro football career to serve in the Marines during the Vietnam War. Cathy Addison has the soul of a caregiver, much like her courageous, compassionate ancestor, who was murdered by Native Americans. Like Dion, she’s also attached to the virtue of honor; as a result, she attempts to remain true to her fiance, despite his boorish behavior. She becomes a nurse in the Navy medical corps and gets deployed to Vietnam. Norman Coddington is born to a prominent family in Boston but suffers due to a chillingly cold mother and absentee father. He wrestles with existential angst, which expresses itself as a reckless embrace of risk, which led him to Vietnam. All three characters encounter, in one way or another, the savage lessons of war and are transformed by them. At one point, for example, Norman reflects on his dreams of war glory: “Yet now those fantasies meant little in the face of the harsh realities of combat, and he’d become aware that he was a foolish lad when he’d spawned those ideals.” Overall, this novel is first and foremost a tale about grappling with one’s ineluctable past. Hardy masterfully depicts how the weight of family history can accumulate over successive generations, and how such a legacy can be either a guiding compass or an oppressive yoke. He also deftly captures the barbarous reality of war. The three characters’ stories ultimately intersect, but only very late in the novel, so each plot maintains its own autonomous life. This is a long book, though, at more than 750 pages, due in part to the author’s liberal expansion of side plots. Also, readers may find that Cathy’s naïveté when it comes to her suitors defies credulity.

A sensitively rendered story about the impact of the past on the future, and about the morally clarifying effects of war.

Pub Date: July 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5075-5271-1

Page Count: 540

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more