If this story were told in straightforward fashion, it would be a readable yarn, good adventure, good romance. But, for some inexplicable reason, the author chooses to make it a story within a story — and since the main story involves yet another story (a dream this time), the whole emerges like the inner kernel of a nut, involving unnecessary work to get to the meat. In the main, the story is that of an aviator who contracts to take an Oxforddon to Greenland, there to discover the truths back of the theory that the Norwegians who settled first in Iceland, were also the first settlers in Greenland. On the verge of this adventure, the aviator discovers that the party will be complicated by a troublesome daughter. A succession of mishaps makes it still more difficult, and the strain ultimately culminates in an oddly vivid dream, a recreation of the whole episode of the Norse exploration, not only of Greenland, but of "Vineland" as well. Nevil Shute, in telling this somewhat odd blend of adventure and fantasy has departed completely from the social implications of his other two novels of today. He shows no growth in mastery of his craft, but he spins a good enough yarn.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0884113213

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1940

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


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.


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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