THE NANNY

Equal melodrama and farce.

No, no, not that New York Nanny—an English one. Sort of like Bridget Jones, but not so jaded, with unmistakable echoes of I Don’t Know How She Does It and other chick-lit classics.

Gather round, twentysomethings, and identify with spunky Jo Green, who leaves the peaceful village where she grew up, tired of the same old crowd at the same old pub, ready for something, anything, new. Bidding her mates and devoted boyfriend good-bye, she arrives in London, awed by the great city—but unimpressed by the beleaguered parents who hire her about a minute after their last nanny quit. Vanessa, an advertising exec, loathes all aspects of mommydom and openly prefers her clever colleagues to Dick, her henpecked husband. The Fitzgeralds indulge themselves endlessly in vicious bickering, which troubles Jo, though she soldiers on bravely nonetheless, somewhat comforted by her own suite, huge TV, and sole use of a Renault. The three adorable children are a handful, of course; and so Jo seeks advice from the other nannies, English and foreign (all accents duly noted and elaborately mocked). The young women dish on their obnoxious employers, confess to crushes on the better-looking husbands, and tell wide-eyed Jo how to wangle days off and perks such as facials and aerobic classes. Despite her devoted boyfriend’s pleading, Jo hopes to find new love with her new life. Conveniently, Josh, Dick’s grown son from a previous marriage, moves back home to (she thinks) sponge off his father. Josh breaks his leg, the two bond over heaps of ironing, and at last the truth is revealed: Dick has been unable to keep up his share of expenses, and Josh, a successful accountant, has been secretly slipping him money so dear old dad won’t incur the simmering wrath of his bitchy wife. Can the marriage be saved? Will wedding bells ring for Josh and Jo?

Equal melodrama and farce.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-056011-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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