Richly gripping, nonoccult thriller about telepathic twins- -from the author of Bella Mafia (1991) and writer of the much- acclaimed British PBS series Prime Suspect. Ruda and Rebecca as children were subjects of experiments in telepathy by Dr. Josef Mengele at the Birkenau death camp, where he told them that the stacks of newborn babies they saw weren't dolls but actually loaves about to be baked in the ovens. Carrying deep psychic wounds, the girls were parted when the Russians liberated the camp. Ruda became a child whore in Berlin, dreaming of getting to America and having herself attended to medically. Rebecca went to an orphanage, later was adopted by an American couple, and raised in Philadelphia. A fat, tantrum-y child beset by color- flashes, she grew up to become a pencil-thin New York model and drowned all memory of Ruda. She married Baron Louis de Marechal, lived amid fabulous wealth in Europe, and had four children, but each birth was followed by a mental breakdown. Now, Louis has brought her to Berlin to the hypnotherapy clinic of Dr. Franks, Louis's last hope before committing ``Vebekka'' (she has changed her name). Meanwhile, Ruda has married a dwarf in order to get to America. But he's imprisoned for theft and she moves on to an over- the-hill lion-tamer, Luis Grimaldi, whom she marries and brings back into the circus ring with a pride of great cats. Luis teaches Ruda, and at last she becomes perhaps the world's greatest lion- tamer (and you can believe it: Ruda's many scenes hustling huge hissing cats through their paces keep you rigid). It seems, however, that unbeknownst to the sisters, when they live near each other, Vebekka suffers flashes that signal a breakdown.... A pinch of the paranormal assures massive paralysis of the neckbones as you claw through the pages and hiss for privacy.

Pub Date: June 18, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-09243-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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