Affecting biblical drama scaled down to human dimensions.

ZIPPORAH, WIFE OF MOSES

BOOK TWO OF THE CANAAN TRILOGY

Fanciful version of the fatal encounter between African princess Zipporah and young Moses, in a breathy, atmospheric translation.

The second volume of French novelist Halter’s Canaan Trilogy (Sarah, 2004) shows Zipporah, the daughter of Midian high priest Jethro, meeting the fugitive Moses on his flight out of Egypt. At the well with her light-skinned stepsisters, Zipporah is intrigued by the stranger she recognizes from a dream. Although Moses explains to Jethro that he has killed an Egyptian overseer and is fleeing Pharaoh’s court, the priest offers him a small flock and shelter among the Midianites. News of his adopted mother’s illness nearly sends him back to Egypt, but Zipporah persuades Moses to remain and be her husband, despite his conflicted identity—he has learned he is Hebrew by birth—and inability to embrace the Midian god, Horeb. True to her dream, however, the sight of a burning bush convinces Moses he must return to Egypt. Zipporah makes the arduous trek with her husband, their flock and two children; they are joyously reunited with Moses’ long-lost siblings, Aaron and Miriam. The Hebrews, however, are appalled by this black-skinned bride, and Miriam is particularly hostile to her. Moses insists on his gratitude to Zipporah for saving his life (and circumcising his son Eliezer), but she at last grasps the futility of her presence amid the monumental events unfolding in Egypt. Excluded by her African birth from the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham, Zipporah returns sadly to Midian, only to learn a year later that Moses had led the great exodus from Egypt. By then, the Hebrews are wandering restively, Moses is a changed man and the couple’s brief, final meeting makes a tragic footnote to the violent surge of events.

Affecting biblical drama scaled down to human dimensions.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-5279-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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