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THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER

A nicely judged sense of period and the author’s full-blooded commitment lend heartfelt emotion to simple characters in a...

A prize-winning, cross-generational love story of missed connections and delayed gratification hits a seam of pure romantic gold.

Star-crossed is an understatement for the ill-fated love between trophy wife Jennifer Stirling and hard-drinking journalist Anthony O’Hare in British writer Moyes’ cleverly constructed, cliffhanger-strewn tale of heartache in two strikingly different eras. Jennifer and Anthony meet in the South of France in that strait-laced time just before the 1960s blew social conventions apart. Jennifer, married to a powerful businessman whose fortunes derive from asbestos, is a Grace Kelly look-alike, beautiful and seemingly blessed with a perfect life. But as the story opens with her attempts to reconstruct her existence after post–traffic-accident amnesia it becomes apparent that her marriage has a cold heart compared to recently experienced passion. Held back by convention and fear, she hesitates to grasp her first chance at happiness. Later, other and larger impediments stand between the two lovers whose commitment finds expression in letters which come to light again 40 years later in the library of a relocated newspaper. Journalist Ellie Haworth, involved with a married man, is moved by the words and starts to piece the story together, in the process coming to a different understanding of what love really means.

A nicely judged sense of period and the author’s full-blooded commitment lend heartfelt emotion to simple characters in a tour de force of its kind.

Pub Date: July 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-02280-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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