MORNING TIDE

From the late Scottish author Gunn (d. 1973), another novel set in the chillingly pristine and seacoast landscapes (Young Art and Old Hector, 1991, etc.). Here, a young boy of 12 in a poor fishing village survives family crises and his own emotive tides and turns: a father at the mercy of a storm at sea; the departure of an older brother; a mother's near-fatal illness—and, of course, a nagging awareness of sexual attraction. Again, Gunn writes with a scowling intensity when he strains at a visual prize (``she could feel the angles of the old drystone dykes of the north in her own joints...''), and he goes after the most elusive of sensual bangs (``an oily brown taste'' is the mix of tea and meat). But when the author takes on the terror and majesty of a stormy sea, his statuesque, somewhat idealized people and their domestic concerns are an appropriate complementary landscape. The village watches in awe and fear as at last the boats come in, then as a wave lifts boat and men to thunder on the break and recede: ``White-flecked, like a great skin, the whole body of water could be seen swaying out to sea.'' Strong stuff, Men of Arran fashion, but affecting also is Gunn's reading of the changing moods in one family as an 18-year-old brother leaves for Australia: the close last dinner, the night's wild fling with piper and poaching, the breakfast (``already part of the journey''), the public goodbye, and the final, private griefs. Then there's the agony of the mother's illness (including ponderous metaphysical speculation) and some peeks (from a tree) at innocent love-play. The shuttered passions of an adolescent, in a stoic, loyal, closemouthed community, point to the possibilities of adulthood: ``All at once he started running...his bare legs twinkling across the field of the dawn.'' Purple—yes, a shade, but Gunn's sea is a deep blue, then furious white and mighty and real.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1993

ISBN: 0-8027-1228-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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