Feel-good fantasy served up with an earthiness that often borders on the raunchy.

MAY DECEMBER SOULS

Fluffy debut novel by an entertainment-industry recruiter based in L.A.

Mariah Pijeaux hasn’t met anyone like her beloved late husband, but former basketball player Kareem Washington satisfies her sexual needs, even if he isn’t interested in any kind of commitment. But now that her oldest is attending UC Berkeley and her youngest has turned 16, Mariah is starting to wonder what she wants out of life. Should she seek custody of her third child, who now lives with his father? Should she pursue a career in broadcast journalism instead of drifting from one temp assignment to the next? Most importantly, should she dump Kareem? The relationships seminar she attends intrigues her, though her skeptical girlfriends scoff at the sillier notions of the love doctor. Not Mariah. Maybe she is addicted to the oxytocin high she gets from all that hot sex, and it’s certainly possible she’s bonded to a penis attached to the wrong man. Fortunately, Mr. Right is around the corner. Malik Tolliver is a rookie football player seemingly made up of bits and pieces of black celebrities (smooth Michael Jordan head, Wesley Snipes color, etc.). Only problem: Malik is 21, Mariah 39. But they do have something in common besides lust: both were abandoned by their daddies. After a lot of soul-searching and earnest talk-show platitudes, they write to their respective fathers, hoping for reconciliation and healing. Mariah’s apparently heartless daddy writes back and tells her to get over it, then promptly dies, leaving her a heap of old photo albums and childhood mementoes that prove his lifelong love for her. Further happiness awaits: Malik is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens—and, besides that, beats a statutory rape charge with ease. Mariah just knows he didn’t do it, and her faith in him and herself is rewarded even more when she’s tapped to host an entertainment news show.

Feel-good fantasy served up with an earthiness that often borders on the raunchy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-000732-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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