Henshaw’s prose shimmers as his narrative becomes ever more nuanced, complex, and misleading.

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THE SNOW KIMONO

Henshaw creates a world of psychological complexity and emotional subtlety in a story that moves from Paris to Japan and back again.

Auguste Jovert has been retired only a few months as inspector of police in Paris when he’s startled to receive a letter and photograph from his daughter, Mathilde, who only recently discovered her father’s identity. Thirty years earlier he’d worked in Algeria, where he met Mathilde’s mother. His immediate impulse is to crush the photograph and think it’s “too late,” and for a while, this particular mystery is put aside. Shortly thereafter, however, Jovert meets a neighbor, Tadashi Omura, a law professor at the Imperial University of Japan now living in Paris, who comes with his own cryptic issues about fathers and daughters. He spins a mesmerizing story about his relationship with Fumiko, whom he treats as a daughter though he claims she is not. In a series of detailed flashbacks he presents their relationship, on which one lie is piled onto another—for example, that Sachiko, Fumiko’s mother, died in childbirth. In the interstices of his long conversations with Omura, Jovert takes tentative steps to find Mathilde by using some of his contacts at police headquarters. Eventually the narrative of Omura’s past becomes ascendant and throws Jovert’s story into the background. We learn particularly lurid details about Omura’s friendship with Katsuo Ikeda, a brilliant student and friend of Omura’s, who becomes a writer and lives a profligate and amoral life, culminating in a murder. But with Omura, nothing is at it seems, and we find Ikeda’s life has also been constructed of elaborate fabrications.

Henshaw’s prose shimmers as his narrative becomes ever more nuanced, complex, and misleading.

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-922182-34-0

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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