Amazingly, the effervescent comedy and troubling melodrama combine to create a satisfying beach read, escapist but not...

THE HYPNOTIST'S LOVE STORY

Australian Moriarty (What Alice Forgot, 2011, etc.) has managed to combine an infectiously lighthearted romance about a Sydney hypnotherapist with a potentially upsetting examination of a stalker’s interior life.

In the first scene, an unnamed narrator has come for treatment for mysterious leg pains at the home of the eponymous heroine, Buddhist-leaning but not stereotypically New-Agey Ellen, who uses her powers of hypnotic persuasion to solve other people’s problems. Unfortunately, Ellen has been less successful solving her own problems in maintaining relationships. Then she meets surveyor Patrick, a widower, and the rapport is immediate. The romance proceeds swimmingly. Ellen even hits it off with Patrick’s 8-year-old son, Jack. There is only one little hitch: Patrick is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend Saskia, who turns out to be the leg pain patient. Chapters take turns showing Ellen’s and Saskia’s perspectives as events unfold. Ellen, whose self-professed goal in life is self-awareness, tends to overanalyze, but she is also endearingly honest in rooting out her true feelings. Saskia’s way of showing up and knowing everything about Ellen's and Patrick’s lives creeps her out, but Ellen also finds herself wanting to understand Saskia, especially when Ellen acknowledges her own reaction to Patrick’s lingering feelings for his dead wife. She is even drawn toward a gray ethical area in deciding whether to use her powers of suggestion on Patrick. But Saskia is the novel’s unexpected heart. Moriarty makes it clear why Patrick, who is refreshingly imperfect as a secondhand Prince Charming, finds Saskia a threatening presence in his life. How far she might go is worrisome. But like Ellen, readers will be drawn to Saskia. She is a predator but also a deeply troubled woman. Moriarty makes sure that any woman who has ever compared herself to a lover’s ex or Googled an ex of her own will identify to some degree with Saskia’s struggle to overcome what she recognizes is an unhealthy obsession.

Amazingly, the effervescent comedy and troubling melodrama combine to create a satisfying beach read, escapist but not unintelligent.

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15910-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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