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EMPTY WARDROBES

A still, luminous book whose precise characters evoke broad truths about the human experience.

A widow restarts her life after a decade of mourning in this 1966 novel, the first by this towering Portuguese novelist to be translated into English.

Dora Rosário is the manager of a finely appointed antiques shop nicknamed The Museum, the mother of teenage Lisa, and an independent woman living in Lisbon in the prime of her life. Yet, ever since the death of her husband, Duarte, 10 years earlier, Dora has devoted her days to tending and preserving his memory. In life, Duarte was an insufficient spouse—a self-appointed Christ figure with “vast reserves of passive resistance,” which he used to rebuff all his mother’s proclamations that “her son would one day cause a stir.” When Duarte died, he left Dora and the young Lisa destitute and forced to rely on his indomitably eccentric mother, Senhora Dona Ana, for material support until Dora became the manager of the antiques store, the first job she had ever held. For a decade this is how the women's lives progress. Lisa grows up to become a graceful, witty, and entirely insouciant teenager, Dona Ana has begun to slip into senility, and Dora lives as “a career widow,” following a ritualistic routine among the dusty remains of other people’s memories. Then, on the night of Lisa’s 17th birthday party, Dona Ana reveals a devastating truth about her son that calls into question all of Dora’s devotion. What follows fundamentally changes the lives of all three generations of Rosário women, but particularly Dora, who must now look clearly for the first time at the legacy her husband has really left her: a desiccated life lived at the behest of a society that views her value only in accordance to her relation to men.

A still, luminous book whose precise characters evoke broad truths about the human experience.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949641-21-9

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Two Lines Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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