Schadenfreude is the only enjoyment readers could derive from watching these spoiled characters repeatedly self-destruct.

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LOVE, HONOR, AND BETRAY

Eighth in Roby’s Reverend Curtis Black series, this time featuring Curtis’ clueless third wife, Charlotte.

Despite his checkered past as clerical babe magnet to the entire Chicago-land African-American community, Curtis has emerged unscathed and wealthier than ever as pastor of his own megachurch in ex-urban Chicago. His family, wife Charlotte and their son Matthew, enjoy all the perks of Black’s success, including entrees to Ivy League schools and shopping sprees at Tiffany. However, another viper (the couple’s domestic road has been a rocky one as regular readers will know) lurks in the gold-plated nest. Curtis’ lover Tabitha, stricken with AIDS, dies, leaving her two-year-old daughter Curtina in her baby-daddy Curtis’ care. The affair with Tabitha was Curtis’ payback for Charlotte’s adultery in a previous installment. (That liaison resulted in a child, now deceased, whom Charlotte tried to pass off as Curtis’ own). Charlotte, predictably, doesn’t consider them even. She resents Curtina’s presence in her household and insists that Curtis consign her to one of Tabitha’s relations. Curtis’ refusal to abandon the girl starts the cycle of revenge affairs spinning yet again. While carousing in a Chicago jazz club, Charlotte meets Tom, with whom she trysts drunkenly in a sleazy motel. As their marriage disintegrates, Curtis is tempted by a number of predatory females all too willing to be wife No. 4, including Raven, the church’s CFO, and a hot-to-trot parishioner named Sharon. Charlotte enjoys a passionate Palm Beach weekend with Michael, an old flame re-ignited via Facebook. Just when Matthew’s involvement in a high-school hostage situation seemingly reunites the couple—now remorseful, Charlotte is even trying to act motherly toward Curtina—Michael’s estranged wife Sybil, and Tom, who has his own agenda, threaten to expose her betrayals. The pace, slowed by too much stilted dialogue and clunky exposition, accelerates in the last pages, preparing the way for the next novel.

Schadenfreude is the only enjoyment readers could derive from watching these spoiled characters repeatedly self-destruct.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-446-57245-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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