Next book

THE WOOD OF SUICIDES

An anxious, uneasy and despondent anti-romance novel.

Electra meets Lord Byron. Daphne meets Apollo. Insecure girl with eating disorder meets predatory teacher with dashed ambitions.

Woollett’s debut novel casts Laurel Marks as the brilliant yet underachieving, beautiful yet repressed protagonist. Her disturbed eyes view her voluptuous, free-spirited mother with horror and her frail, intellectually gifted father with reluctant reverence. Suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, her father’s passivity draws Laurel closer while his ardent love for her mother repels her. His early death leaves her feelings for him unresolved and eager to be rid of her mother. Consequently, she jumps at the chance to attend St. Cecelia’s Catholic School as a boarder, although she pockets a vial of her father’s opiates. Suicide insurance. Enter Hugh Steadman, Byronic, charismatic teacher of Romantic poetry. Married to a successful doctor and father to teenage twins, Steadman’s academic ambitions have dwindled from attending medical school to enticing barely mature young women. Soon, Steadman’s virility and Laurel’s desire for a new god figure have her manipulating her body language, changing her locker and wearing black bras under white blouses to attract his all-too-willing attention. Quite the schoolgirl, Laurel rejoices in every morsel of information gained: his first name, his birth date, his wardrobe. An unexpected visit from his wife to the classroom provokes Laurel’s interest and possessiveness. Laurel’s unrelenting focus on Steadman makes for an uncomfortable reading experience. She simultaneously desires and despises her sexuality; she both adores and deplores Steadman. Forced to see the train wreck through Laurel’s eyes, the reader cannot ignore her role in the affair. Nor can the reader ignore Laurel’s heartbreaking naïveté. Their flirtation ignites into a doomed affair, which both try to exalt onto a mythic scale. Sadly, their relationship is merely sordid.

An anxious, uneasy and despondent anti-romance novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-57962-350-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 39


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 39


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Next book

THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

Categories:
Close Quickview