by Melissa Jones ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 6, 2010
Sure to ignite controversy among Jamesians.
London-born author Jones’ novel explores the troubled relationship of an American expatriate novelist and his cousin, a charming orphan infected with tuberculosis.
A fictional character based on Minny Temple, impoverished cousin of Henry James and model for many of his female protagonists, Emily Hudson is orphaned at 16 when her family succumbs to consumption. Forced back on the tender mercies of her uncle, straitlaced Boston theologian William Cornford, she’s packed off to boarding school, but soon expelled, in 1861, for being too outspoken. Emily rejoins the Cornfords, who openly despise her, except for cousin William, a sickly, scholarly young man already making literary waves in Boston. After Emily scuttles her marriage prospects by rejecting dashing and wealthy Captain Lindsay, a Union officer, her uncle disowns her, but William asks her to accompany him to London, where, with his financial backing, she will be free to pursue her ambition to study painting. In London, William distances himself from Emily, except for weekly dinners at which he doles out her stipend. An aristocratic acquaintance, Caroline Trelawney, helps Emily negotiate a young lady’s entrée into London society—in some ways freer, in others more oppressive toward women than Boston’s. Narrowly escaping the clutches of attractive roué Lord Firle, Emily eventually exhausts William’s patience with her utter heedlessness. (Apparently, he’s unable to discard the puritanical social mores he aspired to escape in Europe.) Not only does Emily get Caroline to pose in deshabille, she runs out in a storm, triggering a tubercular attack, and embarrasses William by dressing down an anti-American dinner guest. Fleeing to Rome, Emily finally achieves autonomy as a woman and an artist. This partially epistolary novel (Emily corresponds with her school friend Augusta, Caroline and William’s dour but deep sister Mary, among others) renders Emily and her mostly harmless foibles believable, but William remains a cipher.Sure to ignite controversy among Jamesians.
Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2010
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking
Review Posted Online: July 21, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010
Share your opinion of this book
by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
Share your opinion of this book
by Madeline Miller ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2018
Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2018
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018
Share your opinion of this book
More About This Book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!