A comical, believable story of how a couple can unravel simply by wanting to protect each other.

LIE BESIDE ME

Donato’s novel tells a familiar tale of a marriage’s wear and tear, but it’s packed with surprising twists.

Most marriages reach a tepid phase as the nest empties, and Kate McAllister’s is no exception. Her husband, Michael, a reliable provider and dependable husband, has stood beside her as their two children grew from infancy to early adulthood. Now, as their home seems emptier, Michael seems less loving, something that Kate accepts as a passing phase in their new stage of life. That is, until Michael murmurs another woman’s name in his sleep. The name Marilyn, a name Kate cannot recall hearing from Michael in any other context, suddenly appears everywhere. Kate finds her business card—with an incriminating handwritten message scrawled across it—tucked into Michael’s pant pocket. Kate soon discovers that Marilyn Campbell is, in fact, an ambitious and beautiful woman determined to get what she wants. Kate grows increasingly suspicious about her husband. When the beautiful Marilyn shows up at Kate’s office unexpectedly, bearing a tightly sealed envelope for Michael, Kate’s paranoia overwhelms her, and she opens it. What she discovers confirms her worst suspicions, and it triggers a quest for truth that has Kate digging into every private corner of Michael’s life. As Thanksgiving approaches, bringing with it Kate’s traditional dinner for more than 20 people, the tension escalates, and her marriage seems harder and harder to salvage. Fast-paced and highly readable, Kate’s story is one that is not only sympathetic, but packed with its own surprises as well. How well does anyone know his or her spouse?  How does one walk a line between sharing hard secrets and not wanting to disappoint the other person?  All of this is explored as the characters maneuver life as best they can, creating further misunderstandings as they try to make their way back to each other.

A comical, believable story of how a couple can unravel simply by wanting to protect each other.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615639734

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Devon Grove Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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