NATURAL HISTORY

James Bray, a Hollywood actor looking for some kind of meaningful resurrection, is drawn back to his Bridgeport, Connecticut, home in search of animating memories of his hard-working detective father and a frustrating murder case he lost during the war—a case involving a socialite and a soldier. Meanwhile, James's sister Catherine, a Time-Life editor tired of the evanescent sameness of yet another married-man-affair in a Village apartment, has already returned to Bridgeport to become a successful weaver, living low-profile in a house she shares with a virgin ex-nun social worker, Mary Boyle. James hardly knows what he wants from Bridgeport—but at least will discover that what he wants from life, in general, is something he's probably already tasted. Howard (Expensive Habits, 1986; Grace Abounding, 1982, etc.), one of the most intelligent and careful of American novelists, has dipped into the narrative-oddity-bag for this one, however. She tells the story anywhichway but straight: through film-like montage techniques; impacted italics; a section dubbed ``double-entry bookkeeping,'' in which left-hand pages comment on or diverge from the story on the right. It's a job, in fact, simply to punch air-holes into Howard's ever-more crabbed paragraphs (``Wool pulled over our eyes and we love it. Big shadow of James, his grandiose gestures. I been telling true. How it came to pass I went into the eternal Cal. light, got my ass out of the swell chair—no knockoff- -out of the swell room'') and figure out what a character is saying. The Bray dignity that is the family's chief mark is always submerged in the muddy shallows of the stylistics; how palpable and real both James and Catherine are must finally be guessed at, rather than sensually appreciated. Puzzlingly self-defeating.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-393-03405-4

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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