A sparkling re-creation of Britain’s literary and political avant-garde.



Love blossoms and repartee flows for playwright George Bernard Shaw and his coterie of late-Victorian literati and socialists in this blithe historical novel.

Hall’s yarn fictionalizes the relationships of three notable real-life couples at the center of British intellectual life in the 1890s. One is the attraction of Shaw, a self-proclaimed “writing machine” who insists that his work is too important to permit any commitment to a woman, to Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a down-to-earth heiress who puts up with Shaw’s vanity but proves adept at puncturing it: “You regard yourself as a fountain of genius indifferently showering anyone who comes near,” she tells him. “That makes you a splendid natural wonder, but a decidedly poor friend.” Another is the initially unrequited passion of Sidney Webb, Shaw’s colleague at the socialist Fabian Society, for socialist reformer Beatrice Potter; the two are obvious soul mates, but Potter lacks romantic interest in Webb because of his unappealing looks. And there’s the psychodrama of playwright and legendary phrasemaker Oscar Wilde and his grasping boyfriend, Lord Alfred Douglas, which later leads to Wilde’s ruin. The characters float through London’s restaurants, theaters, salons, and lecture halls and then spend much of the book at the Fabians’ summer cottage in the country; there, they suffer the inedible vegetarian diet that Shaw imposes on everyone and engage in sophisticated conversation about politics, morality, and affairs of the heart. Hall’s novel unfolds through diaries and letters, but it has a polished, theatrical air that’s redolent of Shaw’s and Wilde’s comedies; his version of Shaw has an acerbic egotism worthy of Pygmalion’s Henry Higgins, while Wilde is an inexhaustible source of witticism that hides depths of reflection beneath a surface of frivolous irony: “I adore morality,” he asserts. “It gives my sins their significance.” The other characters also get their due as they go about the work of steady, gradual remediation of society’s ills, and, along the way, they quietly steal the show from the brilliant talkers. The result is an engrossing period piece with gorgeous wordplay and a touch of serious thinking to boot.

A sparkling re-creation of Britain’s literary and political avant-garde.

Pub Date: July 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-09-837073-2

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Inky Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A warm and winning When Harry Met Sally…update that hits all the perfect notes.

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A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning When Harry Met Sally…update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Romance, mystery, and dust bunnies abound in this solid addition to a long-running series.


A blacklisted weather reader on the colony world of Harmony reluctantly partners with the notorious Ghost Hunter who saved her from the Underworld once upon a time.

Lucy Bell doesn't remember how she woke up in the strange alien underground beneath Illusion Town after leaving a friend's wedding, but she's wholeheartedly convinced there was foul play at work. Of course, as soon as handsome Ghost Hunter Guild boss Gabriel Jones shows up with a box of pizza in hand, she lets him in long enough to allow him to help her escape the daunting magical maze. As far as the rest of Harmony is concerned, Lucy's got no one to blame for her misfortune but herself, and all her attempts to convince friends, family, and doctors that she must have been kidnapped fall on deaf ears. Her professional reputation as a weather reader crumbles, and her one reliable witness—Gabriel—instantly disappears. When the Ghost Hunter strolls back into her life, later on, Lucy is understandably less than thrilled to see him again, but he's returned seeking her help this time around. He's got a job that requires a woman of her unique abilities, and maybe, deep down, he's trying to reconnect with her, too—because he's been thinking about her ever since he left all those months ago. Castle returns to her Harmony series for an engaging adventure in which a love story and a whodunit go hand in hand, as Gabriel and Lucy have to team up not only to uncover the truth behind her abduction, but to learn the identity of the person—or persons—responsible for trying to take down Illusion Town's primary energy source. The mystery often proves more absorbing than the romance, but all of the ingredients in this newest installment, as well as its resolution, are sure to satisfy longtime fans of the series.

Romance, mystery, and dust bunnies abound in this solid addition to a long-running series.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33699-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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