Antarctica, with its bizarre and beckoning realities, plays as large a role in this love story as either of its major...

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Short story writer Raymond (Forgetting English, 2009) ventures into the world of the novel with an atmospheric tale of love discovered, and losses endured, in Antarctica.

In a narrative that shifts back and forth over the course of several years, the love story of Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan unfolds against the forbidding, but eerily gorgeous, backdrop of the most desolate continent. Deb, a penguin expert aboard an ecotourism cruise ship, returns to Antarctica often to study her beloved flightless fowl and educate tourists about the tremendous toll modern living has exacted upon the penguins’ fragile habitat and the birds themselves. Keller, more newly arrived on the Antarctic ecotourism scene, shares her passion for the environment but takes a less politic approach to educating adventure-seeking tourists about the damages done to the glacial destination. Each has sought out the remote location for reasons slowly revealed, but, ultimately, the pair shares a passion for the polar setting that becomes inextricably entwined with their passion for each other. As the couple's motives for seeking out the isolation provided at the bottom of the world are revealed, so are their efforts at forging a connection sturdy enough to withstand the attacks of time and distance. The unpredictability of the splendors and terrors of life at the southern pole creates a backdrop of foreboding entirely appropriate for the story’s cinematic resolution in a place where people go when they have run out of places to go or run out of spots to hide.

Antarctica, with its bizarre and beckoning realities, plays as large a role in this love story as either of its major characters, and the authentic rendering of the setting distinguishes Raymond’s novel from other stories of love in perilous times and places.

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2470-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

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

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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