As sexy and brief as the love it describes.

INVISIBLE GARDENS

A steamy tale of an affair that holds the threat of destruction, in Shigekumi’s follow-up to her debut (A Bridge Between Us, 1995).

Lily Soto has a perfect life—doesn’t she? Well, calm and lovely as it may have been (“They would take a day trip, skim across the surface of a sea so peaceful that waves lapped but did not rise up”), life with Joseph has come to feel about as attractive as his job at the morgue. Which isn’t to say that Lily can’t grow aroused watching her husband perform an autopsy—she can and does—but only that something’s missing. That missing thing arrives in the form of Perish, a colleague who announces his obsession with Lily. Lily is still breast-feeding her youngest, yet just the idea of this unlikely love—he’s married, too—triggers a torrid affair. Perish is missing a leg, but that’s somehow part of his allure (“Like the leg that isn’t there, what is missing and hidden defines the space between them”). Lily’s love for Joseph continues to diminish, a pattern not helped by her senile live-in father, who sometimes sneaks tumesce’d into the bedroom to watch the failing couple make love. Divorce looms as things grow worse, but then one day Lily has a seizure in public and, because of his missing leg, Perish is unable to help her. She winds up in the hospital, where a rape kit shows semen and possible rape. Will the lovers get caught red-handed? Or might Lily really have been raped, despite Perish’s insistence that he watched her every minute until the ambulance arrived? When the affair ends, only ghosts, corpses, and love on the brink of death will be left behind: “Now the world takes shape in the garden, where tomatoes with worm holes the size of dimes shrivel on the vine, bugs eat the unpicked squash, and weeds grow between the furrows . . . .”

As sexy and brief as the love it describes.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-31183-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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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