A well-researched what-if tale about the life of Christ.

GRANDSON OF HEROD

IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM

In his debut novel, Raymond sheds new light on an old story, linking ancient political history to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

This historical novel presents an alternative version of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, portraying him not as a humble, stable-born carpenter, but as the grandson of Herod the Great, the grandson of the last Hasmonean king Mattathias Antigonus and the last scion of the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty. The story is told primarily in flashbacks from the point of view of Menelaeus, the son of Mary’s servant (Mary is here called “Princess Mariamne”). Menelaeus was a contemporary of Jesus and knew him since childhood. Beginning with the political machinations that brought Herod to power, the tale winds through Jesus’ birth, life and works and ends with the possibility that Jesus survived his crucifixion. Raymond’s research is praiseworthy; the book’s careful attention to detail and meticulous footnotes draw clear connections between known history and biblically-reported events. At times, the story gets bogged down in exposition, and when the characters do speak, their reliance on anachronistic, modern English idioms can be jarring. When the book turns from facts to fiction, however, the characters’ challenges are sufficiently true to life to keep readers engaged. The life of Jesus is one of the world’s best-known stories, but this novel offers a fresh view; even the most biblically literate reader will keep reading to find out how it turns out. That said, readers with little knowledge of the Bible or classical antiquity will not be left adrift, as Raymond takes care to lay out all the facts, even when explanations risk detracting from the story.

A well-researched what-if tale about the life of Christ.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615681696

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Tower Grove Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2012

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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

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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