Global problems soundly grounded in the particular.

THE END OF THE OCEAN

Two stories on the impact of climate change intersect in this thoughtful and suspenseful novel.

In 2017, feisty Norwegian journalist and environmental activist Signe, “an aging woman, a little shabby and unkempt in a worn-out parka,” returns to a hometown that has been changed for the worse by the building of a dam that harnesses what used to be a beautiful waterfall to produce hydroelectric power. A nearby glacier is vanishing, and to add insult to injury, Signe's estranged lover Magnus, now a capitalist, is sending large quantities of the ice to Saudi Arabia as a luxury item. With the help of a sailboat she has owned since childhood, Signe conceives a plan to shame Magnus. Her story alternates with that of 25-year-old David, who, in 2041 France, has been forced to take up residency with his 6-year-old daughter, Lou, in a refugee camp for those attempting to escape a drought that has been going on for five years. He is hoping against hope that his wife and infant son will join them there and that then they will be able to make their way to the “water countries” up north, but they haven't been seen since the fire that destroyed their town. Both halves of the story are convincingly detailed and quietly wrenching, and Norwegian author Lunde (The History of Bees, 2017) gradually and subtly draws them together to powerful effect. Signe's story moves between her earlier life, clearly revealing how it shaped the woman she is, and her present struggles as she navigates a tiny sailboat on the ocean. David's story widens out to include other residents in the camp as it slides into an increasing state of chaos and as David and Lou begin to come to terms with a new normal and find their way out of the camp and into the countryside.

Global problems soundly grounded in the particular.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295136-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperVia

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

The story of the entangled affairs of a group of exceedingly smart and self-possessed creative types.

Frances, an aloof and intelligent 21-year-old living in Dublin, is an aspiring poet and communist. She performs her spoken-word pieces with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi, who is equally intellectual but gregarious where Frances is shy and composed where Frances is awkward. When Melissa, a notable writer and photographer, approaches the pair to offer to do a profile of them, they accept excitedly. While Bobbi is taken with Melissa, Frances becomes infatuated by her life—her success, her beautiful home, her actor husband, Nick. Nick is handsome and mysterious and, it turns out, returns Frances’ attraction. Although he can sometimes be withholding of his affection (he struggles with depression), they begin a passionate affair. Frances and Nick’s relationship makes difficult the already tense (for its intensity) relationship between Frances and Bobbi. In the midst of this complicated dynamic, Frances is also managing endometriosis and neglectful parents—an abusive, alcoholic father and complicit mother. As a narrator, Frances describes all these complex fragments in an ethereal and thoughtful but self-loathing way. Rooney captures the mood and voice of contemporary women and their interpersonal connections and concerns without being remotely predictable. In her debut novel, she deftly illustrates psychology’s first lesson: that everyone is doomed to repeat their patterns.

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49905-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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