A thoughtfully executed tale that perceptively dramatizes the tension between the demands of love and commerce.

THE WORK OF ART

In this romance set in the early 19th century, a young woman finds herself pursued by an uncouth and relentless duke who’ll stop at nothing to possess her. 

Once her grandfather dies, Phyllida Satterthwaite is left alone in the world as well as virtually penniless—both of her parents died shortly after she was born. She’s taken into the care of her uncle, Edgar Townsend, who lets her modest estate in the country and brings her to London to pair her with a husband. Unfortunately, the duke of Moreland takes an avid interest in her, a man so notorious for his maniacal pursuit of objects of beauty he’s nicknamed “the Collector.” Phyllida, now his quarry, becomes known as the “Work of Art.” The duke is an unreservedly unsavory human being—he beats dogs and is suspected of murdering his wife. Phyllida refuses his hand in marriage, but the duke makes it clear he never asked for it in the first place. Edgar likewise views their union as a financial transaction, one for which the duke paid handsomely. She turns to Capt. Arthur Heywood, a friendly acquaintance, for help, and he chivalrously offers to wed her, a “marriage in name only” that rescues her from the duke’s salacious attention. But the duke is not so easily defeated, and the new pair is threatened by the prospect of his “swift and brutal retaliation.” The duke remains a hyperbolically unsubtle caricature in an otherwise intelligently nuanced novel by Matthews (A Modest Independence, 2019). The author seamlessly combines a suspenseful tale and a soaring romance, the plot by turns sweetly moving and dramatically stirring. The relationship between Phyllida and Arthur is especially well crafted—what was initially a partnership borne out of practicality and mutual respect slowly shows promise of blossoming into something more transcendent. Occasionally, Matthews can be a bit heavy-handed with her narrative commentary; for example, she feels the need, after repeatedly making the point that the duke sees Phyllida as a trophy rather than a person, to tell readers that she really isn’t: “But she was no painting. She was a human being.” Nevertheless, the story as a whole is filled with tenderness and intrigue and is sure to delight lovers of the genre. 

A thoughtfully executed tale that perceptively dramatizes the tension between the demands of love and commerce.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73305-691-5

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

more