No serious insight into how governing works, but an enjoyably gossipy dishing of Inside-the-Beltway residents of all...

EIGHTEEN ACRES

Given Wallace’s previous gigs as G.W. Bush’s communications director and an advisor to the McCain-Palin ticket, it is impossible to read her first novel about the tribulations of the country’s first woman president without trying to glean factual nuggets from the often-transparent fiction.

Moderate Republican Charlotte Kramer, 45th president of the United States, heads into her re-election campaign struggling with the troubled economy and war in Afghanistan left by her (Republican) predecessor and beset by criticism that she’s too cool and unemotional—aside from being female, white and Republican, she sounds a lot like Barack Obama. Chief of staff Melanie Kingston, who is burned out after 15 years in the White House, learns from her media source that Charlotte may be about to face a sex scandal on top of her governing issues. The truth that Charlotte already knows but doesn’t want to share with Melanie is that her husband Peter is the one having an affair, with White House correspondent and weekend anchor Dale Smith. The presidential marriage has been a sham for years since Charlotte began putting her career before Peter and their children (cardboard characters conveniently tucked away at boarding school). When Charlotte comes under sniper attack in Afghanistan, her Secretary of Defense Roger Taylor—whose devotion is barely platonic—saves her life by switching helicopters with the press, causing Dale serious injury. Wracked by guilt, Charlotte drops everything to sit by Dale’s bedside until she’s well enough to travel. Charlotte fires Roger and acknowledges Peter and Dale’s relationship in what turns into a PR coup. Then her trusty vice-president drops off the ticket so she can replace him with the crude, despicable Tara Meyers, a conservative Democrat with no experience but vaulting ambition; fashionista Melanie’s antipathy toward Tara comes across largely in her disdain for Tara’s clothes. Meanwhile go-getting Dale recovers under Peter’s care only to go to work for Tara. The poor men in this novel are such pushovers.

No serious insight into how governing works, but an enjoyably gossipy dishing of Inside-the-Beltway residents of all persuasions.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9482-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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