A lyrical meditation on power, need, and love.


Two women are roiled by loss and desire.

Smith returns to Rome, the setting of her novel The Everlasting (2020), to render, in luminous prose, the lives of two unnamed women, a century apart, grieving, angry, and defiant. Each is engaged in botanical data collection: One, in 1854, assists British botanist Richard Deakin, who aims to record every species of plant growing in the Colosseum. Her father, outraged because she fell in love with a woman, indentured her to Deakin as punishment. In 2018, another woman combs the Colosseum: a graduate student from Mississippi working for a demeaning academic adviser, assigned to compare Deakin’s catalog with flora of the present day. Both women are haunted by loss: one, of her lover, who married; the other, of her mother, an amateur naturalist, who died when she was 15. Her mother taught her that plants “meant something. Not just in the doctrine-of-signatures way, or the yellow-rose-for-friendship way,” but in a deeply spiritual way. The only proof of beauty, her mother believed, “was a piece of living green pushing through a coffin of spring soil.” Smith makes deft use of Deakin’s Flora of the Colosseum of Rome, published in 1855, which combined meticulous botanical descriptions with information on each plant’s medicinal, culinary, and even literary significance. The women collectors are acutely sensitive to shape, texture, and odor and alert, as well, to plants’ cultural connotations and metaphorical richness: “Some plants, like lovers, are parasitical,” one collector reflects. “Naming carries bias, or bias worms its way to names.” The contemporary collector is enraged by the effects of climate change and rampant tourism on the ecology of the Colosseum. Both women rail against the arrogance and sexism that circumscribe their lives: “What does it take,” they ask, “to survive in this world, as a woman, as a weed?” The book is illustrated with delicate drawings by Schermer-Gramm.

A lyrical meditation on power, need, and love.

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-374-60547-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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