The moral ambiguity makes the story more modern than its premise would suggest—and proves how well its source material holds...

THE BRONTË PLOT

Great works of literature and other priceless antiques populate Reay’s (Lizzy & Jane, 2014, etc.) thoughtful tribute to the Brontë sisters.

Lucy Alling has found her niche selling rare books inside the gallery of Chicago’s premier interior designer. She charms her client James Carmichael with a limited-edition Jane Eyre—and her latent talent for design—but when James catches Lucy in a lie, he exposes a secret that could end her career. Just when all hope is seemingly lost, Lucy peeks up at readers from the middle pages and assures us that her story is far from over: “All books have it…that time when you don’t know where you’ll be, but you can’t stay as you are.” Opportunity knocks when James’ grandmother Helen proposes an unusual trip to England’s literary landmarks with Lucy as her shopping consultant. James’ disapproval adds tension, and the shopping transforms Lucy’s soul-searching into something more tangible. Reay handles each souvenir as carefully with her prose as her interior designers do with their hands—creating the effect of walking through an expensive gallery without any pressure to buy—and with a discerning eye, she brings out the varying shades of emotion in her characters. Lucy, for example, compares Helen’s eyes to paint colors—they start out as “Benjamin Moore #810 Blue Dragon” and change with her mood. Confronting her past at the Brontë sisters’ home in Haworth, Lucy soon discovers how much she and Helen have in common. Although age brings wisdom, Helen suggests that even wisdom can come with a price.

The moral ambiguity makes the story more modern than its premise would suggest—and proves how well its source material holds up over time.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8975-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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