THE KINGDOM OF SHIVAS IRONS

Ghosts on the golf course! Phantom visitations on the ninth green! Platonism, the paranormal, and psychedelic whiskey at Scotland's most famed but fictional golf course! Yes, Murphy, golf's greatest mystic, humorist, and founder-director of the Esalen Institute, has at last spawned a sequel to his otherworldly Golf in the Kingdom, which has sold 750,000 copies since 1972. In volume one, Murphy went to the fictitious Burningbush course in Scotland's County Fife (``The Kingdom''), where he had a metaphysical encounter with Shivas Irons, a guru/pro of supernatural perfection whose line of mystical palaver would leave Madame Blavatsky drooling enviously. Since that encounter, many parts of which, Murphy explains, he could not put into volume one because they'd not fully matured and developed (such as Murphy's sighting of Irons's own guru, Seamus McDuff, three years after McDuff's death), Murphy and his buddies have been hyperaware of luminous bodies on the green—paranormals guiding balls through shots only a witch could make. He returns to Scotland once more to seek out Shivas Irons. There, he finds himself well-known, his book read to tatters by the locals, all of whom try to wheedle from him how much of his account is true. Meantime, Murphy falls in with Buck Hannigan, a James Joyce look-alike and theoretical physicist hooked on the paranormal, and together they visit the late Seamus's glowing house and his preposterously difficult seven-hole personal golf course, designed to help raise otherworldly spirits. A visit to Hannigan's mistress, a Russian mystic and channeler, shows the ties between angels and eros, while all comes to a head at the '93 National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Do they find Shivas? Well, spiritually. A big hit? Doubt it not. These are the occult dimensions of golf, straight from the Easter bunny. ($200,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 1997

ISBN: 0-7679-0018-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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