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A cerebral study of self-absorbed women that never dares to question its own artistic pretensions.

A half-successful debut focusing on three very different women and the family ties that keep them together despite their outsider status in three different cultures: Chinese, French, and American.

Celine Arnaux is a rich, famous photographer, now 75, whose haunting and bizarrely erotic images of her young granddaughter won her international acclaim and also notoriety years ago, especially in her native China. The only child of a French surgeon and his Chinese wife, raised in Paris in privileged circumstances (albeit shadowed by racism), Celine was and is supremely indifferent to everything but her art. She always neglected her passive daughter Sumin, and was interested in her granddaughter Cameron only as a model. Compliant to a fault, Sumin permitted Cameron to be photographed by Celine from infancy on, often nude or half-clad in Chinese Communist garb of some sort, in settings that evoke barely hidden violence. Presumably the imagery thus created is meant to represent the assault on traditional Chinese culture by Mao Tse-tung's brutal Red Guards during the 1960s and Celine's attempt to come to terms with that repression through her art—though the author offers up all of this without comment. It’s revealed that Celine's aged mother, who returned to Beijing after her husband's death, was found to possess the offending photographs and that a dreadful fate was in store for her. As if the cold-hearted Celine ever cared. When these women converge on an isolated cabin in Virginia for a reunion of sorts because Celine has grudgingly consented to be interviewed there for Aperture, the underlying tension is made all too clear by the ceaseless, icy bickering. Shepard's oddly disjointed story is not served well by frequent shifts in point of view, and a dispassionate style is too often dressed up with quotes from great literature, asides in French, and inconsequential musing on the creative process.

A cerebral study of self-absorbed women that never dares to question its own artistic pretensions.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-14667-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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