This is dangerously fertile ground for stereotypes and clichés, both of which Donohoe largely avoids in a sympathetic tale...

ASHES OF FIERY WEATHER

Four generations of women tied to Irish-American firefighters in Brooklyn move through this sprawling debut as it renders a family and community held together by the threat of sudden loss and the burdens of new lives.

From the death and diaspora sparked by Ireland’s 1845 famine to the hundreds of firefighters killed on 9/11, Donohoe tells the story of seven women linked to the Keegan-O’Reilly clan in as many large sections. The cast includes about 20 main characters, and while a prefatory family tree helps, confusion can arise. The big chunks aren’t in chronological order, and time shifts often within them under small-font subheads that are easily overlooked. The men are generally at the firehouse, working a second job, or in a bar. That leaves the central seven women and a narrative thread of personal or family crises, small and large, unspooling episodically like a rosary moving bead by bead through praying fingers. The major theme that sustains many loosely connected moments is that of missing persons. To take one example, before adopting a child, Delia consults with her Jewish friend Nathaniel, whose parents were forced to leave a sickly child behind in Poland before fleeing the Nazis. Nathaniel will spend most of his life searching for this lost brother. Delia will adopt Eileen, whose unwed mother in conservative 1950s Ireland must give her up, and Eileen will spend years wondering about her birth mother. A line also runs from Delia’s son, Sean, to another girl curious about the unwed mother in liberal 1990s Brooklyn who agreed to have her baby adopted. The theme culminates of course with 9/11, and Donohoe brings a fresh eye to the catastrophe as it batters her characters and elevates her generally unspectacular prose.

This is dangerously fertile ground for stereotypes and clichés, both of which Donohoe largely avoids in a sympathetic tale full of well-shaped vignettes.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-46405-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping...

WITHOUT FAIL

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 6

When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning, 2001, etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal and In the Line of Fire that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers–tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President–elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14861-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Read this for insights about writing, about losing one’s mother, about dealing with a cranky sous-chef and a difficult...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WRITERS & LOVERS

A Boston-area waitress manages debt, grief, medical troubles, and romantic complications as she finishes her novel.

“There are so many things I can’t think about in order to write in the morning,” Casey explains at the opening of King’s (Euphoria, 2014, etc.) latest. The top three are her mother’s recent death, her crushing student loans, and the married poet she recently had a steaming-hot affair with at a writer’s colony. But having seen all but one of her writer friends give up on the dream, 31-year-old Casey is determined to stick it out. After those morning hours at her desk in her teensy garage apartment, she rides her banana bike to work at a restaurant in Harvard Square—a setting the author evokes in delicious detail, recalling Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, though with a lighter touch. Casey has no sooner resolved to forget the infidel poet than a few more writers show up on her romantic radar. She rejects a guy at a party who reveals he’s only written 11 1/2 pages in three years—“That kind of thing is contagious”—to find herself torn between a widowed novelist with two young sons and a guy with an irresistible broken tooth from the novelist's workshop. Casey was one of the top two golfers in the country when she was 14, and the mystery of why she gave up the sport altogether is entangled with the mystery of her estrangement from her father, the latter theme familiar from King’s earlier work. In fact, with its young protagonist, its love triangle, and its focus on literary ambition, this charmingly written coming-of-age story would be an impressive debut novel. But after the originality and impact of Euphoria, it might feel a bit slight.

Read this for insights about writing, about losing one’s mother, about dealing with a cranky sous-chef and a difficult four-top.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8021-4853-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more