THE CUSTODIANS

Lives intersect too neatly in this intellectually provocative latest from storywriter and novelist Jose (The Rose Crossing, 1996, etc.)—a tale that's as much about a group of friends as their native Australia. These several friends meet as children in the 1950s while observing a solar eclipse from their school playground. Included are: intellectually curious Alex; deeply religious Josie, from the wrong side of the tracks; Jane, who loves to draw; Elspeth, the heiress to an old fortune; venturesome Ziggy, the son of Lithuanian immigrants; Wendy, the beautiful daughter of pious parents; and part-Aboriginal Cleve, stolen by welfare officials from his Aborigine mother and given to a white family who wanted a son. Together, all of them make an ideally representative group to illustrate Jose's ideas about Australian history, domestic and foreign policy, and a future threatened by Asian expansion. While much of this is not without interest, it does lay a heavy burden on the characters, whose lives often have to answer more to punditry than passion. The story follows these custodians of Australia, who, like their country, can never escape the past, as they move through childhood, college, and into adulthood. Jane becomes a noted artist; Ziggy, an actor who stars on the London stage; Wendy fatally takes up with a handsome drug dealer; Josie becomes a nun until an affair with Cleve sends her home; Cleve becomes an Aboriginal activist; Elspeth discovers meaning in farming her family's vast land holdings; and Alex, a rising but emotionally detached political star, finds happiness with Josie, to whom he's been attracted since childhood. They all meet 40 years later at Elspeth's homestead to witness the handing over of a sacred Aboriginal site, and, as the moon goes into an eclipse, their friendship is affirmed, old hurts are forgiven, and new loves consummated. Lively and original characters in vivid settings are held hostage to history and a didactic plot. Still, Jose does offer an illuminating take on contemporary Australia.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-18073-X

Page Count: 512

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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