A little friendship, a little wit and a little mystery make for a charming debut about two old friends reconciled after starting a cupcakery (a bakery specializing in cupcakes).

Annie Quintana and Julia St. Claire have an unusual relationship. Raised like sisters, there is a gulf between them—Annie’s mother Lucia was nanny and cook to the St. Clair family. The distance between the Pacific Heights carriage house and the mansion may be measured in yards, but as the girls entered high school, it became an impossible distance. Ten years after graduation (which coincided with a prep-school scandal and Lucia’s untimely death), Annie and Julia meet again at a St. Claire fundraiser. Annie, now a talented pastry chef, is catering and surprised to see a subdued Julia, who has quit her job in finance and moved back into the manse to plan her wedding. Annie hasn’t forgiven Julia for her past transgressions, and Julia has conveniently forgotten all about them, which makes for some awkwardness when Julia offers to finance Annie’s cupcake shop. As Julia promises to bow out after her wedding, Annie agrees to a business partnership, but every meeting is colored by her anger and Julia’s nonchalance. What Annie doesn’t know: Julia is depressed, recovering from a serious trauma and unsure if she should marry Wes, who may be too good for her. And what Julia doesn’t know about Annie: she’s dating her high school sweetheart and knows the truth about what Julia did to destroy her reputation. In the meantime, their cupcakery is a grand success—except for the frequent vandalism, notes telling them to get out and a frightening man in a hoodie who is always lurking in the shadows. When the truth is finally revealed, it brings real danger to Julia and Annie, who have finally learned to be the sisters they were meant to be.    Despite the sugary title, Donohue has written a sharp little novel featuring the subtle characterizations of two appealingly flawed young women.    


Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-206928-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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

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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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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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