Some will find this morally ambiguous little romp delicious, others repellent.



Marie truly is bad—a toddler kidnapping, husband stealing ex-con with a giant chip on her shoulder. 

As the novel by Dermansky (Twins, 2005) begins, Marie’s just served six years in prison for helping her boyfriend (of less than a week) Juan José escape to Mexico after he was involved in a fatal bank robbery. For reasons that never ring true, as soon as she’s released Marie lucks into a nanny job with her childhood friend/nemesis Ellen, a successful New York lawyer. Marie’s widowed mother worked as a part-time housekeeper (despite her doctorate) for Ellen’s parents, who forced the two girls into friendship. Marie used to steal from Ellen then and she steals from her now—at first jewelry, liquor and money. Ellen’s two-year-old daughter Caitlin adores Marie, and Marie is happily ensconced until the night Ellen and her handsome French husband Benoît come home to discover Marie passed out in a full tub with Caitlin. Ellen is outraged; Benoît, the author of Marie’s favorite novel, is aroused. By the next day he’s in bed with Marie, and soon, using hapless Ellen’s credit card, he’s buying airline tickets to Paris for himself, Marie and Caitlin. But on the plane he runs into his old girlfriend, now a famous actress. By the time Marie realizes that he took credit for writing his sister’s novel after she committed suicide, he’s abandoned Marie for the actress. With Caitlin and a stolen stroller in tow, Marie heads to the Riviera with a kindly movie star. When he asks Marie to leave, she and Caitlin head to Mexico where she remembers spending happy times with Juan José, who later committed suicide in prison. But his family hates her. She abandons Caitlin on the beach to attempt suicide but has second thoughts. Miraculously Caitlin remains safe. Marie checks them into a resort with a stolen credit card and waits for what will happen next.

Some will find this morally ambiguous little romp delicious, others repellent.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-191471-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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