A heartwarming, spirit-lifting read just in time for beach season.

THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB

When Lolly Weller summons her daughter and nieces home to The Three Captains’ Inn, her announcement that she has been diagnosed with cancer is just one of many life-changing secrets to be told.

March’s debut novel uses the films of Meryl Streep to illuminate these women’s lives and to drive away the shadows that dim their happiness. After their mother and father die in a car crash, Isabel and June Nash are taken in by their Aunt Lolly, who lost her own husband in the same crash. Lolly’s daughter, Kat, gains instant sisters, but grief tinges the familial bonds. Now grown up, gathered back under Lolly’s roof, and drafted into Friday Movie Nights, these young women begin to reconsider the choices they have made—and the opportunities ahead. Like the heroine of Heartburn, Isabel is reeling from her husband’s affair. Handsome veterinarian Griffin might know the sting of infidelity, as well, and Isabel is certainly drawn to him for more than their shared pain. Kat has been all but betrothed to Oliver since they were toddlers, but she’s not sure if she is more ready to marry Oliver or to run off to a Paris patisserie. Defending Your Life makes her wonder if the real shame is in missing the opportunities life offers. Perhaps the exotic Dr. Matteo Viola is such an opportunity. Like the daughter in Streep’s Mama Mia!, June’s son, Charlie, has never known his real father. To help Charlie finish his family tree project, June agrees to once more search for John Smith, but maybe Henry Books is a truer father for Charlie. And she can’t deny her own attraction to him for much longer. But which movie mirrors Lolly’s past? What secret does she hide still? And why has she watched Out of Africa only once in her life?

A heartwarming, spirit-lifting read just in time for beach season.

Pub Date: June 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5539-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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