A new rendering of Rice’s familiar themes of sisterhood and inherited dysfunction, which suffers from slapdash...

LITTLE NIGHT

A Manhattan ornithologist strives to heal the rift that has divided what is left of her family.

Clare and her older sister Anne were always close, having grown up in a Chelsea brownstone with parents who kept secrets from each other and their daughters. But when Anne married a famous Danish glass blower, Frederik, he insisted she distance her own family. After a long silence, Clare goes to Anne’s isolated country home, where she’s welcomed by Anne and her children, Grit and Gilly. Bruises on Anne reveal abuse, confirmed by young Gilly, but when Frederik thwarts their escape and tries to strangle Anne, Clare hits him with a burning log from the fireplace. After Anne testifies against her, Clare goes to prison for two years. Almost 20 years later, Clare has rebuilt her life around her work as a birder and nature blogger, studying New York City’s avian population. Her boyfriend, Paul, an Urban Park Ranger, is still in her life, but since she broke up with him (for his own good, she thought) while in prison, their relationship has remained tentative. When Grit shows up at Clare’s apartment (in that very same childhood brownstone), Clare learns that Anne, who moved to Copenhagen with Frederik, has thoroughly identified with her captor. She has tolerated Frederik’s physical and emotional abuse, not just of herself but of her son and daughter. Gilly commits a tragic act as a result, and Grit is disowned by her parents. Frederik is such an odious character that it is difficult to see how he managed to ensnare Anne in the first place—let alone keep her in his thrall. When Grit is hurt while filming in a bog, Clare leaves a message for Anne. A scent of violets and other clues indicate Anne may have heard the call.

A new rendering of Rice’s familiar themes of sisterhood and inherited dysfunction, which suffers from slapdash characterization but profits from a sure-handed depiction of the wilds of New York.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02356-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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