Readers looking for a heroine with brains and beauty will enjoy following Gabrielle’s appealing journey.

FOOL'S RETURN

A compelling mystery/adventure about past lives and cutting-edge technology, set on the coast of Maine.

Gabrielle’s life has plateaued: Her marriage is merely functional, and her career at a venture capital firm is at a standstill, with no promotion in sight. When her boss sends her to Castine, Maine, to see his stepdaughter Reagan’s invention, she believes it will be a quick trip. Then Gabrielle meets Fiona, an eccentric woman who startles her with a disturbing tarot card reading. Shaken, she goes to see Reagan’s new type of battery, and after watching it fail, she meets Alexander, a handsome man who feels drawn to her energy. They make plans for lunch the next day, and after Gabrielle settles in at a bed-and-breakfast, she dreams of Jullian VanDee, a woman who died in Castine while waiting for her lover to come home. When Fiona suggests that Gabrielle may be carrying around past lives with unfinished business, her connection to Jullian begins to haunt her. Lunch with Alexander confirms their mysterious, magnetic attraction, and, later, car trouble keeps Gabrielle in Castine. Reagan calls Gabrielle to try to convince her that the powerful battery works, and soon the two women begin to wonder if there’s foul play keeping the invention from the world. The question of Gabrielle’s past lives becomes a subplot as she delves into the mystery of who’s been tampering with Reagan’s invention. However, her dreams of Jullian VanDee grow stronger, as does her attraction to Alexander, despite the secrets she learns about him. It’s deeply refreshing to read about two smart women plotting and scheming about science instead of romance, and the story’s conclusion delivers on this empowering premise. Some readers may dislike the technical language regarding Reagan’s invention (“The fluid…didn’t have the stabilizing additives I developed. Without them, the materials I use in the anodes become too volatile”), but it adds authenticity to the story, even if a few convenient plot twists may raise eyebrows. Gabrielle and Alexander’s deep connection is unfortunately two-dimensional, as is Gabrielle’s perfunctory marriage, and although the supernatural element of the story is intriguing, it never reaches its full potential. That said, this is a smart adventure with strong messages about altruism, big dreams and the influence of fate.

Readers looking for a heroine with brains and beauty will enjoy following Gabrielle’s appealing journey.  

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494462864

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2014

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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