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AMSTERDAM ASCENDANT

A NOVEL OF REBELLION, FAITH, AND DARING ENTERPRISE THAT LAUNCH A GOLDEN AGE

A well-researched historical novel with a very human core.

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A family fights for religious freedom and a better life in Richards’ saga of 16th-century Amsterdam.

It’s 1572 and the Netherlands are under the control of Catholic King Philip II of Spain, who is out to bring the Dutch to heel and beat back what he sees as Calvinist heresy that has taken root. The story proper opens dramatically with Maarten van der Voort and the Sea Beggars, essentially privateers, capturing a Spanish warship, which sets the tone for the next several years of back-and-forth fighting. Philip sets up a version of the Inquisition in Amsterdam, but eventually the Calvinists prevail and the Catholics who don’t flee the city accept their second-class status. When Philip deploys his forces elsewhere in Europe in 1590, Maarten and the Sea Beggars can tentatively get on with their lives, which revolve around sea trading, from Gdansk in the north to Amsterdam—and points farther south that are sufficiently clear of the Spanish. Through hard work they expand their fleet and prosper, sailing as far as Livorno, Italy, and becoming very shrewd bargainers along the way. They establish a major mercantile power—the Dutch East India Company—on the world stage in 1602. The principal characters, each drawn with distinct personalities, include Maarten, the adopted son of saintly old Papa Hasbrouk, Maarten’s wife Betje, and their two sons, Nicolaas and Dirck (Dirck, defending his meager quarters, comically protests, “It's small, but not nearly as cramped as my cabin at sea, or as dank. It even has a window!”). The author follows their progress over the next couple of decades, marrying, having babies, and sometimes meeting untimely ends. Considering the many plot threads that could easily have become tangled, such as those following Dirck’s social cluelessness, Nicolaas’ womanizing, and Betje's endless fretting, Richards is to be congratulated for keeping each strand in place, all requiring just the right amount of our attention. Richards is a competent and earnest writer, not given to lyricism. But her love for the time and place is palpable, and this well-told tale leaves the reader eager for further chapters.

A well-researched historical novel with a very human core.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2023

ISBN: 9780984541089

Page Count: 357

Publisher: Aries Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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