Few can match the muted humor, lingering poignancy and depth with which Hornby (A Long Way Down, 2005, etc.) limns his...

JULIET, NAKED

British woman finds herself in an intimate e-mail relationship with the obscure ’80s rock star her music-obsessed ex idolizes.

Annie can understand liking American singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe. After all, his masterful breakup album, Juliet, is one of her favorites. The problem is that her longtime live-in boyfriend Duncan (an older, sadder version of Rob in Hornby’s High Fidelity, 1995) lives and breathes Tucker Crowe, to the exclusion of having an actual grown-up life. After 15 years, Annie realizes she has wasted her childbearing prime tied to a man who feels more passion for a reclusive musician than he could ever muster for her. Duncan then makes it easy for Annie to kick him out by cheating on her with Gina, a new performing-arts instructor at the school where he teaches. In the meantime, Annie has inadvertently begun a web correspondence with Tucker himself, who finds her through an astute post she leaves on one of Duncan’s geeky fan sites. The years have not been kind to Tucker, who lives in suburban Pennsylvania with his young son. His life bears little resemblance to the legend that has grown up around his disappearance more than 20 years earlier. Their meaningful exchanges awaken feelings in Annie that she had nearly given up on, while also giving her a vicarious thrill over one-upping Duncan. Tucker likes her too, finding her wit and kindness refreshing after years of chasing models. Living in a sleepy English seaside town, Annie has little hope of actually meeting her correspondent, but when a family drama brings Tucker to London, she sees an opportunity for adventure—and more. Tucker arrives, personal baggage in tow, and what happens next transforms both their lives in ways they could not have anticipated.

Few can match the muted humor, lingering poignancy and depth with which Hornby (A Long Way Down, 2005, etc.) limns his forgivably human characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59448-887-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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