A story told on two levels of perception and the reader- an in some of Shute's other books- is called on to accept a shift of personality, an acutely aware extra sensory perception. He has made it very plausible this time as he tells two stories, — the one of a youngish married pilot, Ronnie, who tells the story; the other of Johnnie Pascoe, an older pilot, who- in his years of retirement- has run a small airfield in Australia. Johnnie, on a mission to take a sick child off a remote beach location, has crashed. Ronnie volunteers to fly a doctor in, and falls on the first two attempts. Exhausted, he goes to Johnnie's cottage to sleep — and becomes, for a period, Johnnie Pascoe, and relives in successive flashes, the whole of his life. There had been a marriage which crashed- when his actress wife went to Hollywood, divorced him, and brought their child up to distrust and blame him. Then, years later, there had been a romance which ended on tragedy. The girl was tied to a madman; when she knew she could not have her freedom, she crashed her own plane. And their child, here and Johnnie's, was supposed to have died. But she hadn't, and how she came on the scene, and the part she played in leaving the story's end with a note of hope, belongs to the story itself. Not literature, this, but good reading, both an romance and adventure. The flying aspects are perhaps the beat part of the book.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1958

ISBN: 1842322834

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1958

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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