Beach readers may find sand gnats more entertaining.

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GROUNDSWELL

Lee, the much younger ex-wife of Billy Joel, debuts with a novel whose self-important heroine is a famous actor’s much younger wife who leaves him (with prenup) when he cheats on her only to find true love weeks later with her surf instructor.

Screenwriter Emma is at a Metropolitan Museum of Art gala when she catches “blockbuster movie star” husband Garrett kissing her old friend Lily. Flash back seven years to the beginning of the romance between Emma and Garrett. While Lily, then her college roommate, is rich and spoiled, Emma is a scholarship student from Kentucky who also manages to be a killer dresser. She dreams of becoming a screenwriter (her telling all-time favorites: Dirty Dancing, When Harry Met Sally and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Working on a movie set, Lily quickly catches Garrett’s eye. Despite his reputation as a womanizer, he falls hard for Emma. Soon they are dining at fine restaurants (names provided) and hanging out in his suite at the Carlyle. She cuts short her family Christmas to vacation on his yacht near St. Bart’s and buy $12,000 of clothing on his credit card. At the wedding that soon follows, Emma slights Lily, sharing the ceremony’s big secret only with her childhood friend Grace. Grace becomes Emma’s personal assistant and finds an adorable West Village apartment. Garrett moves Emma into a fab Soho loft and finances her screenplay debut, the story of their romance—a huge hit. Emma’s struggling to conceive a second script when her marriage collapses. She kicks Garrett out and decamps, at Grace’s suggestion, to Mexico to recuperate. There she discovers the spiritual power of surfing, especially after she and her hunky surf instructor have “sex for hours.” Could a whole new life be on the horizon?

Beach readers may find sand gnats more entertaining.

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-8359-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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