An imaginative and witty retelling of universally acknowledged truths.

PREJUDICE & PRIDE

Messina (The Bolingbroke Chit, 2015, etc.) reimagines a classic in her gender-bending, modern-day take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

In present-day Queens, New York, brothers John and Bennet Bethle are the spine of the Longbourn Collection’s development department. After some persuasion by their parents, they get their youngest brother, Lydon, an internship at the museum as well—but his definition of “internship” is practically synonymous with “Starbucks.” Mr. Meryton, executive director of the Longbourn, is always close by; he would “never trust an employee to do well what he himself could do perfectly”—that is, to land major funding from New York’s richest. Enter Charlotte “Bingley” Bingston, an enthusiastic socialite and chair of the Gold Diamond Advisory Board who's almost as smitten with the local rugelach as she is with John. Her best friend, Darcy Fitzwilliam, a fellow heiress, has a guarded and cold demeanor which earn her little favor from the rest of the cast. Things become complicated when Bennet runs into Georgia Wickham, an estranged childhood friend of Darcy’s, in the lobby of the Longbourn. The entanglements are knottiest at Bingley’s fundraising gala at Netherfield on Park Avenue. Collin Parsons makes his dazzling entrance just as Bingley quits the city suddenly. After 48 “Bingstons,” or days Bingley has been unreachable, both John, who refuses to pine for her, and Bennet, who was “dissed for the financial sector,” are loveless and in desperate need of distraction. When Collin invites Bennet to the Hamptons for a weekend, Messina raises the stakes even higher: there’s a surprise visit from Darcy, and by the time Bennet returns to the city, Lydon is being held by the FBI for grand larceny. It takes a lot of money, influence, and humbling before anyone reaches a mutual understanding. The characters get a little verbose at the end, slowing down the otherwise well-paced plot, but they’ve got quite a bit of explaining to do. Messina maintains the emotional depth of the characters with easy humor despite their wrestling with first impressions gone awry and the consequence of ill-held grudges.

An imaginative and witty retelling of universally acknowledged truths.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942218-05-0

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Potatoworks Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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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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