Sometimes annoyingly self-absorbed, but at its best, a story delivered with clarity, elegance and the oomph of lived...



Memoirist Dudman (Expecting to Fly, 2004, etc.) turns to fiction in this brief novel about middle-aged passion.

Virginia is in the olive aisle of her local gourmet grocery when she sees David for the first time since he dumped her nine months earlier after a ten-year affair. Virginia flees the store, then impulsively climbs into the backseat of David’s truck. When he returns to the truck and starts to drive, she stays hidden under a jumble of his old sweaters, reminiscing about their relationship. The affair began when she was a 40-year-old divorcee with two kids and a job managing an ad agency. He was ten years older, also divorced, with grown kids and a business never described. During the early years he was madly in love and repeatedly proposed marriage. She repeatedly refused. She loved having a boyfriend, but liked to keep him at arm’s length. Preoccupied with friends, family and job—although details remain fuzzily in the background in her obsessive retelling—she never paid him the attention he craved. Later on, she found David’s increasing depression annoying, and their sexual relationship, so central in their early years together, became problematic as well. Moreover, his desire to talk over his issues with her made her feel pressured. In their last year together her strongest feeling toward him became irritation. Ironically, since he rejected her, she has been obsessed with David. Now arriving at his house, Virginia still avoids revealing herself. She escapes the car when he goes inside. When he leaves again, she finds her way inside his house. Lying on his bed, she relives New Year’s Eve, when he admitted he’d begun seeing someone else. Virginia is unflinching in her self-portrait, sorting through her true and egoistic emotions until she recognizes David, and herself, for who they really are.

Sometimes annoyingly self-absorbed, but at its best, a story delivered with clarity, elegance and the oomph of lived experience.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4960-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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