31286676.399 Estleman, Loren D. THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN MOVING PICTURE ASSOCIATION Estleman has switched fictional settings before from Prohibition Detroit (Whiskey River, 1990, etc.) to the Hollywood of early silents, as in Billy Gashade (1997). His latest, set largely in 1913, is something of a sequel to Billy. Burgeoning but unpublished young writer Dmitri Andreivitch Pulski, who admires Jack London and writes under the pen name Tom Boston, has garnered 172 rejections and, waiting for his ship to come in, works for his father, who owns the Sierra Nevada Ice Company. One day after he’s just helped cut up eight tons of ice from a frozen lake, a request comes in from a Hollywood studio for ten tons of same. His father sends Tom/Dmitri down to Hollywood to check on the deal. Tom’s romantic interest is exotic blossom Adele Varga, the secretary/leading lady for director Buck Bensinger, whose Rocky Mountain Moving Picture Association is shooting The Trail of “98, the Alaskan gold rush tale that made all that ice necessary. When Tom says he’s a writer and that Jack London will undoubtedly sue Buck for lifting his plot, Buck hires Tom to sponge all the Jack London out of the script. Meanwhile, the sheriff threatens to put Buck’s equipment on the auction block if he doesn’t pay off a printer. On his new job, Tom the innocent wanders about the set with Adele, while Estleman packs in sparkling filler. A leap ahead to 1927 tells of Tom/Pulski’s visit as a big-time realtor to Hearst’s castle at San Simeon; then it’s back to 1913 and Buck’s fight against the Edison Trust. When his leading cowboy star dies on heroin, Buck hires a famous desperado just released from San Quentin to replace him. Buck takes to drink; Adele turns producer and makes a star of desperado J. W. Starling. Jump to 1948 for a nostalgic recap. Masterful description floats through a story that’s held together by sheer charm.

Pub Date: April 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-86676-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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


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

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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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