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THE PINK HOTEL

A sharply written satire with somewhat heavy-handed social commentary.

Two newlyweds honeymoon in a Los Angeles hotel for the uber-wealthy while fires ravage the city.

When Kit and Keith Collins arrive at the luxurious Pink Hotel, Kit has no idea their stay is doubling as an extended job interview. Although the couple has met success—the restaurant at which they both work, he as general manager and she as a waitress, has recently earned a Michelin star—it’s still in middle-of-nowhere Boonville, and Keith has greater ambitions. Kit feels sidelined and disillusioned, spending her days drinking with the ruthlessly extroverted Marguerite instead of with her new husband. Keith, who “liked watching Kit transform from this unsure girl, an orphan really, to someone whose dreams matched his own,” grows increasingly frustrated that she isn’t enthused by this opportunity. “Had she expected they’d live in Boonville forever?” Meanwhile, fires destroy thousands of homes, and working-class people are rioting in the streets. A slew of bored billionaires flock to the hotel “for comfort,” and suddenly the hotel is understaffed and needs Keith to help—uncompensated, of course, except for the flimsy promise of future employment. Tension mounts, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon flow, and the hotel descends into chaos. “The ennui of the elite wasn’t some abstract concept,” Jacobs writes. “Their boredom can shift landscapes, collapse entire economies.” At a sentence level, the novel sings. The prose is pithy and precise, and one imagines Jacobs can summon any image with unsettling swiftness. The social commentary that underpins the story, however, is a little obvious. Out-of-touch billionaires are low-hanging fruit as far as social satire goes, and one wishes that Jacobs used her powers to nudge the story into more fruitful and nuanced territory.

A sharply written satire with somewhat heavy-handed social commentary.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-3746-0315-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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