MAMISTA

Deighton's longest, most complex and passionate novel in years: an epic tale, set in a South American jungle, of good men and women crushed beneath the heel of Realpolitik. The world-weary pessimism that seeped into Spy Sinker (1990) stains these pages black; even Deighton's customary whimsy has withered into a pervasive bitter irony. Yet there's valor in his new, brilliantly realized huge cast of characters, beginning with two men who travel for different reasons to Spanish Guiana: Australian M.D. Ralph Lucas, sent by a relief group to research medical conditions in the area controlled by the MAMista Marxist guerrilla movement; and Angel Paz, an idealistic young ``Yanqui'' Marxist determined to fight for revolution. After meeting under the brutal gaze of the country's neofascist rulers, the pair— accompanied by Inez, a beautiful female revolutionary—endure a harrowing air ride to the south, where they link up with General Ram¢n, leader of the MAMista. There, disillusionment sets in as Lucas is shocked at the rampant disease and malnutrition, and Paz finds himself compared unfavorably by Ram¢n to the wise, if capitalist, Lucas. A guerrilla raid on an American outpost jacks up the emotional tension: Inez, to her shame, kills in cold blood; Paz causes an innocent's death; a CIA man is captured—and proves the key for future horrors. Meanwhile, in mesmerizing scenes set—in contrast to the miasmic jungle—in elegant D.C. power venues, including the White House, the President and his chief advisor hammer out a shady deal with Ram¢n to permit US exploitation of a huge oil find in guerrilla territory. To consecrate the deal, Ram¢n sends Lucas and comrades to escort the CIA man north on a jungle trek that explodes in heroism, betrayal, absurdity, and death. The spirits of Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad hover over this stately, outstanding mix of tragedy and black farce that builds slowly—but inexorably—to its piercing conclusion.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-017936-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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