REDEMPTION

A sequel to Trinity, Uris's 1976 bestseller, that's as great and chaotic a muddle as Ireland's lengthy struggle for independence — which again serves as backdrop for what's essentially a multifamily chronicle. At the heart of the narrative is Rory Larkin, a wild colonial lad whose father (Liam) fled the Emerald Isle's grinding poverty during the mid-1890's. Although he enjoys great success as a New Zealand sheep-rancher, the squire misses his homeland. Despite an inability to express any paternal feelings for Rory, father Liam and uncle Conor (an itinerant Republican who figured prominently in Trinity) convey to the young man their love of country. Eventually, underage Rory (who's been having an affair the older married Georgia Norman, a noble and sensual nurse) marches off to WW I under an assumed name. He serves in an ANZAC outfit commanded, among other officers, by scions of an Ulster peer named Roger Hubble, who's loyal to the Crown and a nasty piece of work to boot. Rory earns a commission, mates up with men who would've been his enemies in the UK, survives Gallipoli, and is sent to the British Isles to recover from wounds. On the auld sod as aide to the brigadier Westminster assigned to pacify Irish Catholics after the Easter Uprising of 1916, Captain Rory falls in with rebel plotters, providing critical aid in the assassination of his despised CO. Protestant sympathizers persuade (would you believe?) Winston Churchill to doctor army records, and Rory lad is off on a long voyage home to be met by Liam (with whom he's been reconciled) and Georgia (the mother of his child and, surprise, now divorced). In this uneasy blend of fact and fancy, Uris frequently allows his virulently anti-British sentiments to get the better of his storytelling. Nor is he particularly adept at integrating mini-history lessons into a convoluted tale replete with studly (if honorable) Paddies, brutish Brits, and their saintly womenfolk. For those who hung on Battle Cry, Exodus, Topaz, and other Uris offerings, then, a considerable disappointment.

Pub Date: June 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-018333-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

THE NIGHTINGALE

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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