This first novel from prize-winning short-story writer Davis (Break It Down, 1986) wryly turns a failed love affair into a therapeutic literary experiment. Now living on a different coast and with a different man, the narrator, a translator and academic, confesses that the novel she's trying to write is ``about a lost man,'' the man she once loved to the point of obsession. By telling her story she hopes to neutralize the obsession, if not end it. But writing truthfully about their relationship isn't easy. ``The order is difficult,'' she confesses, ``it had been the most difficult thing about this book. Actually, my doubt has been more difficult, but my doubt about the order has been the worst.'' And these preoccupations with the actual writing of the novel complement the problems in the relationship. She met him while living and working in a city on the West coast. He was 12 years younger than she, a poet published in the small presses, and a sometime student pumping gas. She recalls their first meeting, his good looks (which would haunt her long after he left), and the quarrels they had. But her most intense and painful memories are those of the end of the affair, when, unable to accept that it was ending, she waylaid him at work, stalked him, and contrived dates that didn't pan out. She has no illusions about him: He was immature, he borrowed money that he never repaid, he let people down. But, for an obsessed lover, all that is irrelevant. Her futile search for him once he leaves is equally obsessive, and it ends, several years later, with a ceremonial act- -exhausted from walking, she accepts a cup of tea from a stranger- -whose meaning she only understands later. For all the good and clever writing, the story remains a neat idea without much emotional wattage.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-374-14381-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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