Fellowes drives the novel at a leisurely pace and lets the characters unfold gradually and quirkily until we get to know...

CHAPLIN & COMPANY

A slow-moving novel—perhaps appropriate since much of it takes place on a narrow boat moored in London's Little Venice neighborhood—ultimately driven by characters...and charming they can be.

At the center is Odeline Milk, an artiste and illusionist who aspires to become a mime. She has an impressive collection of books by and about Marcel Marceau, some in French, a language she doesn’t even understand. Her mother, Eunice, had a brief fling with Odelin, a clown with the Cirque Maroc, when the circus passed through Arundel, in southern England, years before, and it comes as no surprise that he is Odeline’s father. Shortly after Eunice’s death, Odeline moves to London to try to earn a living as a mime; she takes up residence on the narrow boat, appropriately called Chaplin & Company, though not named after that Chaplin—it turns out that its builder, whom we meet briefly in a flashback to the 1930s, was named Walter Chaplin. She meets an assortment of other wayfarers, vagabonds, political refugees and alcoholics, chief among them John Kettle, warden for the Little Venice Marina; Vera, a foreigner who works at the local barge cafe; and Ridley, the easygoing master of the narrow boat Saltheart. Odeline has a gig in Covent Garden, the theater district, but it turns out that the venue is actually a pub. The performance falls flat, though by the end of the novel, Odeline finds some success with a more receptive audience: children. Meanwhile, she decides to search for her father the clown, whom she’s idealized over the years. When they link up at the Cirque Maroc, she heartbreakingly realizes that, throughout her life, she’s surrounded him with an aura of illusion.

Fellowes drives the novel at a leisurely pace and lets the characters unfold gradually and quirkily until we get to know them well.

Pub Date: June 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-87140-744-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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