While it’s much more than a love story, Palladio is chiefly about love. Heartache, though, is the true coin in this realm.


Two separated lovers are set on a collision course, in a trenchant fourth novel by the author of, most recently, St. Famous (1996).

Dee makes approaches from opposite ends of the time spectrum to tell the story of Molly and John. First, there’s John Wheelright, a young New York ad executive in a modest crisis about the direction his life is (or isn’t) taking. He has a comfortable job, a good wage, and a no-stress girlfriend, but he’s at a loss for a greater purpose. Things fly into a tizzy when he gets a sudden offer: Mal Osbourne, a reclusive mad genius of the advertising world, is starting up a groundbreaking new firm in Charlottesville. Then, from the other end of the time continuum, there’s the grimmer story of Molly Howe. Molly is a disaffected child growing up in the tiny, depressed town of Ulster, New York. Given her distant parents and somewhat troubled nature, it isn’t a surprise when she becomes a sullen and rebellious adolescent, eventually getting caught in flagrante delicto. Eager to be rid of her, Molly’s parents pack her off to Berkeley, where she stays with her older brother Richard, a born-again, commune-living Christian. Without paying tuition, she sneaks into university classes and there makes friends with John Wheelwright at a younger age. Soon they’re living together in an uneasy meshing of Molly’s brooding, guilt-ridden self and John’s polite desire to help. Molly eventually goes AWOL, breaking John’s heart, though their paths will again cross at Palladio, a dreamlike place where the messianic Osbourne extols the creation of advertising that is really modern art. Dee’s prose can transcend the sometime contrivances of his own tale: Whether describing the economic ravaging of a dying small town or the minute details of a troubled relationship, he hits the nail on the head time and again.

While it’s much more than a love story, Palladio is chiefly about love. Heartache, though, is the true coin in this realm.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-50179-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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