An engaging exploration of love and faith anchored by dynamic lead characters and briskly paced storylines.

Actual Love


A respected minister and Old Testament scholar examines his troubled marriage and his faith while investigating a potentially groundbreaking discovery in Logan’s (Chihuahua, 2016, etc.) latest novel.

The peace and quiet of a routine flight from Tel Aviv to Luton, England, is shattered by a man calling out “Kill her!” The flight crew locates the source of the disturbance, a minister named Dave Jackson. Believing his outburst was the result of something he ate, he apologizes to the crew. Dave’s life and career are in crisis. His teaching career is stalled, and his relationship with his wife, Colette, is faltering. After catching her in an adulterous embrace with a visiting lecturer, Dave accepted an offer to travel to Israel to translate a recently discovered Dead Sea Scroll. The scroll tells the story of Mary, a widow and mother of five who’s bravely facing the siege of Masada. Mary’s record comprises daily life in Masada; she also recounts the love story of Hosea, told through the point of view of his sister. As Dave begins his journey home, he reflects on his problematic childhood, his disintegrating marriage, and his faith, framing his struggles in the context of the scroll and its message. Logan’s sprawling narrative deftly juggles multiple plotlines and points of view without losing sight of the central story. The heart of the novel is Dave’s return to England from Israel, a trip filled with reading, reflection, and decisions on how to proceed with his marriage and career. Extended flashbacks reveal his difficult upbringing in Brooklyn and the meaning and direction religion brought to his life. Interwoven with his youthful memories is the poignant story of his love affair with Colette, the tragedies that affected their marriage, and the illicit relationship that drove a wedge between them. The dual narratives of Mary and Hosea are similarly well-developed. Each could stand alone as a separate tale, but together they help provide insight into Dave’s scholarship and the trials he faces.

An engaging exploration of love and faith anchored by dynamic lead characters and briskly paced storylines.

Pub Date: July 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4834-5415-3

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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