An ambitious first offering from a new talent.

CADENCE TO GLORY

A NOVEL OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

With the American Revolution as a backdrop, debut novelist Dearmon offers an enjoyable, old-fashioned love story set in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Readers meet feisty, outspoken 17-year-old Priscilla Parr in August 1773, not long after British Parliament authorized the Stamp Act, which didn’t sit well with Colonists. When the family of Priscilla’s childhood friend Thomas Eton moves back to Williamsburg from Richmond, the friendship between the two teenagers is rekindled. This relationship between Priscilla, daughter of a Loyalist, and Thomas, son of a Revolutionary, frames Dearmon’s depiction of the fracturing friendships and families of the Colonial privileged class as sides are drawn for or against the Revolution. Hidden beneath the congenial, ever so polite social events are rivalries, espionage, villainy and treacherous betrayals. With one exception near the end, Dearmon doesn’t take her readers to the war itself. Following Priscilla, she stays focused on the home front. While the revolutionaries make their plans and begin to take up arms, hearts are chastely aflutter as young women continue to search for proper husbands and eligible men search for appropriate wives. Priscilla, with her streak of independence and an innate understanding of human machinations, is the endearing guide through the social mores and upheavals. Her intellectual curiosity is drawn to the rather boisterous political debates she overhears among men. Although she thinks it naïve to believe that an uprising against the king could be successful, she is gradually drawn into the fray by Thomas, who is committed to American independence. Eventually, she will have to make a painful, costly decision. Dearmon writes in the style of late-18th/early-19th century authors, replicating the linguistic formality of the era both in dialogue and narration. The work reflects an assortment of literary styles: part comedy of manners, a bit of epistolary text and a good measure of family saga. A healthy supply of plot twists propels the story forward.

An ambitious first offering from a new talent.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502768612

Page Count: 358

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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