An intense, tragic, but ultimately hopeful accounting of the price—and value—of passion.



Obsessive love inspires a torrent of conflicted emotions in these heartfelt poems.

Love, Makhadmi writes in “I Love Love,” detonates “like the alpha phase of an atomic bomb,” and the 99 poems she gathers here register the searing heat, abject surrender and toxic fallout that ensue. The latter two predominate in her first section, “Poems of Painful Love,” addressed by a besotted woman—in “Raindrops” she wonders, “How can my life have meaning / When the sole purpose of my existence is to love you?”—to a nameless, and often heartless, man. “My stomach fills with pain you’ve left me in,” she keens to her cruelly absent lover in “Drown” before continuing: “I drown in tears that have fallen from my lashes; / Like a seal, I can’t keep up with killer whales.” In “Day and Night,” her unhinged anguish turns to self-victimization: “I cut my flesh to give relief to the constant agony in my heart.” In “Pain,” the tears and blood dry up under a hot anger: “To taste your pain excites me; / To hurt you is my mission. / Oh, how senseless I can be, / And send you to a mortician.” Makhadmi’s dark, repetitive, incantatory images of blood, tears and rainfall lift in the concluding section, “Poems of Sweet Love.” Here the woman’s devotion remains self-immolating—“I would sacrifice my happiness for you alone; / Like a wounded fox, I would lie on train tracks,” she vows in “Sacrifice”—but in “No Boundaries” it yields a quiet joy—“Like the beauty of a flamingo, / My love for you is never ending”—and in “To Know You”—“My heart pitter patters with excitement…Because to know you is to love you”—a sunny lyricism. Makhadmi’s unwavering focus on her narrator’s inner feelings often turns the figure of the lover into a cipher, yet it works: her poetry vividly conveys a certain rapturous kind of love that blocks out everything but the heart’s desire.

An intense, tragic, but ultimately hopeful accounting of the price—and value—of passion.

Pub Date: July 22, 2010

ISBN: 978-1450238656

Page Count: 148

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2010

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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