It’s little surprise that all Keyes’s novels are released in summer—with their appealing combination of lighthearted humor,...



Queen of the girlie-girl novel, Irish author Keyes makes her fifth outing—and first to be set in the US—a laugh-out-loud tour through the land of broken hearts and fun shoes.

The life catastrophes of Claire and Rachel have been addressed previously (Watermelon, 1998; Rachel's Holiday, 2000), and now it’s time for Maggie, the “good one” of the five Irish Walsh girls. Likened to warm, plain yogurt, Maggie has indeed kept to the straight and narrow (although this is in comparison, mind you, to her alcoholic, drug-abusing, man-eating sisters) with a nice job, nice house, and an even nicer husband named Garv. But when Maggie discovers after nine years of marriage that Garv may have been having an affair, she leaves him, going first to her parents’ house in Dublin, then to Los Angeles (why not, since she’s also just been fired) to stay with best friend Emily. A struggling screenwriter, Emily introduces Maggie to the Hollywood life: actress/model/waitresses (mattresses, for short), phony-baloney double-speak, plastic-surgeried everything, bluish-brown skies, white furniture, and anorexic dogs. Her own life a shambles, Maggie tumbles into Emily’s world of friends (yummy indie director Troy, beautiful lesbian Lara), screenwriting (if Emily’s newest script doesn’t work out, she’s back to Dublin), and cocktail parties with “complicated martinis.” Maggie falls in love briefly with Troy, then with Lara, but in truth it’s really Garv she wants, and it may be that their recent “set-backs” have been caused less by marital malaise than by the two miscarriages Maggie recently had. Will Maggie ever find happiness again? Will she stay in LA? Will Emily really rewrite her screenplay with an all-dog cast? Rest assured, reader, all works out as it should.

It’s little surprise that all Keyes’s novels are released in summer—with their appealing combination of lighthearted humor, high-end shopping, and a little true love.

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-000802-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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