Will appeal mainly to readers seeking inside glimpses into the classical music world.

THE SONG OF HARTGROVE HALL

A composer looks back on a life nurtured and challenged by a crumbling English country house.

The plot of Solomons’ fourth novel caroms between the 1940s and '50s and the early 2000s. In the present, septuagenarian Harry Fox-Talbot, known as Fox, a celebrated conductor and composer, is mourning the death of his wife, Edie Rose, a famous singer. Back in 1946, as Fox returns from boarding school and his two older brothers, Jack and George, from World War II, their father, the General, is contemplating demolition of their English country house, Hartgrove Hall, which is severely dilapidated after several decades of neglect and recent use as a billet for troops. The three sons resolve to save Hartgrove by farming the land, and the General gives them one year to succeed. The plan is complicated by Fox’s decidedly nonrustic musical ambitions and the fact that Jack, the oldest son and sole heir to Hartgrove, has secretly married Edie, a Jewish songstress known for her stirring wartime ballads, much to the General’s alarm. And Fox’s, because not only do he and Edie have musical aptitude in common, he is obsessed with her. Distraught, Fox leaves Hartgrove and goes to London to make his fortune under the tutelage of illustrious conductor Marcus Albright. In the present, these conflicts appear to have been resolved: Hartgrove is fully restored and Fox owns it. He and Edie had a long and happy marriage which produced two daughters, Clara and Lucy, and three grandchildren, including 5-year-old Robin, a piano prodigy. A grieving Fox finds a degree of solace in championing Robin’s talent. The main source of suspense is how these reversals of fortune occurred. Despite a clichéd redemptive close, the principal characters are not sympathetic enough, nor does the love affair seem compelling enough, to make us care.

Will appeal mainly to readers seeking inside glimpses into the classical music world.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-14-751759-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Plume

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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