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LOUIS L'AMOUR'S LOST TREASURES

VOLUME 1

Lost treasures indeed. A second volume is promised as well as other unpublished work to fill the shelves of eager L’Amour...

A behind-the-scenes look at the unpublished work and unrealized aspirations of an iconic writer of Westerns.

“Far overhead a bird soared. Twice he looked at it, brow puckered.” Louis L’Amour (1908–88), ne LaMoore, wrote millions of words, almost always in simple declarative sentences. Vying only with Zane Grey, he dominated the Western genre; if without the flair of Elmore Leonard, his work was miles above the penny dreadfuls that had preceded him. It will surprise readers who know only his Western writing to learn from this overstuffed volume that L’Amour was interested in other genres, more than dabbling but often not quite committing to them; he tried his hand at the intersection of Westerns and horror but also played with science fiction, historical fiction, even variants of romance and literary fiction, examples of all of which abound in this gathering of provisional work. Often he achieved nicely atmospheric effects that wouldn’t be out of place in Hemingway (“The wind moaned and blew a few leaves across the campsite. Where they had been there was nothing but darkness and the cold”), and just as often he took formulas and breathed fresh life into them. Beau L’Amour, his son and editor, allows that his father was “trapped by his own success” in the Western genre—and by the need to support a family on writing alone, churning out books, magazine pieces, television scripts, and more. But on top of all that work, L’Amour constantly experimented, as this volume shows, making notes for and drafts of adventure, crime, sci-fi, and other kinds of fiction, even an odd exercise in speculative work that spoke to his interest in reincarnation and “the transmutation of souls.” While his son is quick to admit that Pop’s work wasn’t always, well, good, it’s refreshing to know that no matter how successful, L’Amour, his office piled high with books, was always looking to stretch.

Lost treasures indeed. A second volume is promised as well as other unpublished work to fill the shelves of eager L’Amour buffs.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17754-5

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

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. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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