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A HOUSE FULL OF WINDSOR

A spectacular and addictive family tale that’s equal parts charm and depth.

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A TV presenter navigates her relationship with her hoarder mother in this novel.

Sarah Percy is a 30-year-old New Yorker with a tidy career plan and a strong fan base. Still, life isn’t nearly as easy as Sarah makes it sound in her “Sarah Says” lifestyle advice segment on Good Morning New York. Back in suburban Philadelphia, Sarah’s mother, Debbie, struggles with hoarding British royal family tchotchkes and memorabilia dating back to Prince Charles’ wedding to Diana Spencer. It’s a decadeslong issue that’s wreaked havoc on Debbie’s safety—she has to clear paths to get through the house—and, more significantly, on her relationships with her three adult children. When Sarah’s younger brother, Will, lands an associate producer position on the popular hoarder intervention show Stuff, he promises the higher-ups he will convince Debbie to star in an episode. Sarah takes time off to assist with the segment—much to the chagrin of her new boss, who is all too eager to replace her with the latest Bachelor runner-up. Sarah finds herself reluctantly enamored with the handsome, empathetic Stuff showrunner and host, Pierce Thompson. Meanwhile, Debbie takes stock of her house full of possessions, reflecting on how one drink with a charming stranger while studying abroad in 1981 London got her to this point, lonely and clinging to the past in her home. The impressive and enjoyable novel alternates between Debbie’s and Sarah’s points of view, giving sensitive perspectives of a hoarder who can’t stop shopping and the effects it’s had on her loved ones. Contino never reverts to reality TV stereotypes of a very real psychological issue, instead exploring the complex origins of Debbie’s compulsion, including an ill-fated shotgun marriage with a very sad end. But there’s plenty of genuine humor in the story, not to mention an abundance of love, as Sarah and her two siblings, twins Will and Anne, band together to repair their broken family once and for all.

A spectacular and addictive family tale that’s equal parts charm and depth.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948018-99-9

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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