BEYOND THE BLACK STUMP

A good idea and bad execution- a disappointment for Nevil Shute enthusiasts. Frankly, for this reader, it has the earmarks of something written earlier in his career- and inadequately revised. The thread of plot is adequate enough- but the dialogue, particularly the lame attempt to simulate middle class American speech, is amateurish and thoroughly annoying. Let's hope the English public won't accept it as authentic. (It must be comparable to an American dabbling in the Cockney idiom, and accepting it as legitimate Londonese.) The only factor in this novel that makes it worthwhile is the picture of life on an Australian sheep station, a prosperous one, in West Australian terms, but devoid of every comfort the hero of our tale, an American geologist, would consider essential to living. Of course he falls in love with the beautiful daughter of the rancher- and she with the mental picture of American life created by the slick magazine advertisements and the Hollywood films. Her mother insists on a postponed decision until she has visited his family. And the windup puts into juxtaposition two sets of mores- and a realization that they would not mix.... Not enough.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 1956

ISBN: 0848820312

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1956

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

BAREFOOT

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.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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