Steinbeck thought East of Eden his best work. We won’t argue.

STEINBECK

NOVELS 1942-1952

A collection of Steinbeck novels from his last notable period, which ends with his ambitious Salinas Valley epic, East of Eden, published when he was 50. Although Eden was followed by Sweet Thursday, Travels with Charley, the script for Viva Zapata!, The Wayward Bus, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (Steinbeck’s reworking of Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur), and other plays, scripts, and nonfiction works—and by his receiving the Nobel Prize—depression and illness dimmed Steinbeck’s flame for his last 16 years, and these later works will not make the cut for a fourth and final Steinbeck volume in Library of America. He began The Moon is Down (1942) as a contribution to the war effort, placing it in a midsize American town under occupation troops, but when it was turned down as no morale booster, he rewrote it as a play set in a nameless Nordic country, then novelized it. Editor DeMott also includes his richly woven short novel, the timeless Mexican parable The Pearl, and the rather sentimental Cannery Row.

Steinbeck thought East of Eden his best work. We won’t argue.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2002

ISBN: 1-931082-07-3

Page Count: 980

Publisher: Library of America

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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