An engaging tale about a transplanted Southerner questioning the Confederacy as he pursues a wartime romance.

DON'T YOU CRY FOR ME

A Confederate spy and a Pennsylvania Quaker fall in love during the Civil War.

In this novel, Coopey (Full Circle, 2016, etc.) reimagines the lives of two of her ancestors, drawing on both family lore and historical research to produce a well-rounded story. Carter Willoughby is the only remaining son of a plantation-owning Georgia family. After checking in on his parents and sisters, all suffering from the war, he goes to Pennsylvania in disguise. He pretends to be an “anti-slavery, anti-rebellion Methodist” circuit rider named Mark Randolph while actually planning to destroy a crucial part of the railroad system. In Pennsylvania, he rents a room from Susannah Lander, a Quaker who lives in poverty with an aging aunt while fending off unwanted suitors and fighting for support from her stingy uncle. Susannah challenges Carter’s beliefs about the war, and gradually they move from sparring to friendship to love. After Carter reveals his secret and breaks with the Confederate Army, they marry. Susannah is pregnant when he returns to Georgia at the end of the war. Hoping to settle his family’s estate, he loses the remaining wealth and struggles to return to Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Susannah faces trials at home without her husband. Coopey does an excellent job of blending fact and fiction (an author’s note explains the story’s factual basis), and her vivid historical details bring the setting to life. Susannah is a compelling heroine, dealing with problems both realistic and melodramatic in a satisfying way. Coopey never allows readers to forget the bleakness of her life (“I kept up my daily routine of mucking out the barn, pruning fruit trees, planting onions or whatever else was asked of me”). The book’s characters of color remain in distinctly secondary roles. Although Carter’s views on slavery evolve over the course of the narrative, his redemption may be too simplistic for some readers.

An engaging tale about a transplanted Southerner questioning the Confederacy as he pursues a wartime romance.

Pub Date: July 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9979351-2-7

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Fox Hollow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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