A profound novel about forces that can nurture or break the strongest connections.

VALLEY FEVER

Taylor (Rules for Saying Goodbye, 2007) evokes the rich textures and rhythms of California’s Central Valley in this lush novel of inheritance, family, and betrayal.

Ingrid, who believes “all existential problems are solved when you’re driving somewhere,” narrates her return to her family’s 20,000-acre farm in Fresno after her latest breakup. She’s spent the decade since college in New York, London, and Los Angeles in a series of failed relationships and needs somewhere to begin again. Her father, Ned, who inherited his first hundred acres, has spent a lifetime buying and cultivating the best soil. Now he presides over Palamede Farms with “something beyond affection for the grapes…something much closer to love.” But “no farmer ever wants another to do well,” and love may not be enough to keep the farm going. Ned’s daughters, Ingrid and her sister, Annie, a Los Angeles voice-over actress, help each other through heartaches while also discovering what very different adults they are. The sisters share a complicated relationship with their fiercely protective mother, who is hostile to almost everyone outside their family. One of the few outsiders she trusts is her husband’s best friend, Felix, a successful vineyard owner who also makes wine by buying grapes from other farmers. When Ned’s long-standing cough worsens, Ingrid settles in to help run the farm, tangling with Felix to make good on his promise to buy Palamede’s harvest. The picking season’s vivid drama is rendered through descriptions of the changing grapes as Ingrid waits for Felix to pick them before they lose their value; one day, they are “plummy and tart, but too taut yet.” Meanwhile, Ingrid reunites with her estranged best friend, Bootsie, and George Sweet, the man many thought she would marry if her mother had approved.

A profound novel about forces that can nurture or break the strongest connections.

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-29914-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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