More script than novel.



The TV writer and producer, not to mention famous F.O.B. (Friend of Bill), debuts with the chronicle of one eventful year in a small town where a few high-school friends are still close.

Like an overfurnished room, Bloodworth-Thomason’s story is stuffed with colorful characters who (not surprisingly) all talk and behave like actors in a TV show. The small group of friends live in Paris, Arkansas, where a big superstore has been built out on the highway, so that everyone is shopping out there instead of patronizing the old Main Street businesses. This megastore and a group of prejudiced rednecks are the villains in an essentially sentimental tale that’s book-ended by a death and a wedding. When Dr. Mac dies, fortysomething Wood Mackelmore, his son and a physician, feels even more down about his own life. His marriage to Milan seems as dull as his job, and he’s feeling restless. His friends Mavis, Jeter, and Brundidge also have their issues. Mavis is single and owns a successful bakery, but she wants a baby. Jeter, who is confined to a wheelchair thanks to a football injury, writes poetry and dreams of love. And Brundidge—divorced, lonely, and determined to preserve Paris—refuses to shop at the superstore. As the friends mourn Dr. Mac, Wood’s daughter Elizabeth announces that she’s going to marry fellow college student Luke, who is the son of Duff, an old high-school flame of Wood’s. And as the year passes, Wood and Duff get together, while Milan, who has overcome a terrible past—poverty and her father’s suicide in front of her—tries to plan the wedding while ignoring Wood’s infidelity. The friends are preoccupied, too, as Mavis finds an unlikely sperm donor, has a baby, and realizes she’s gay; some louts attack Mavis, Jeter tries to save her, and Brundidge may at last have found love. As the year finally ends, there’s a wrap-up of a wedding with a difference.

More script than novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-059670-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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Cheerfully engaging.


From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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