THE MARCHMAN

Scotland is barely saved from England's grasping Tudor monarchs as Tranter (The Riven Realm, 1985, etc.), a popular chronicler of Scottish history, tells the engaging story of John Maxwell, the young Warden of the Borderlands who routed the English, advised his monarch, and married for love. Two hundred years after the Scots defeat the English at Bannockburn, Scotland faces another invasion as Henry VIII sends an army north. The Scots, led by their king's favorite, Oliver Sinclair, are humiliatingly defeated in 1542 at Solway Moss, and James V dies shortly thereafter—to be succeeded by his infant daughter Mary, whose French mother will act as regent. This war, as well as the turbulent years that follow, is seen through the eyes of John Maxwell, whose father is the hereditary Warden of the West March. Young John fights with distinction at Solway, where his wise counsel and canny leadership are instantly recognized. He later marries Agnes Herries, the spirited daughter of another Warden, and is soon embroiled in matters of statecraft and war as Scotland struggles to keep its independence. In England, meanwhile, Henry VIII dies, but his successors—son Edward, daughter ``Bloody'' Mary, and Protestant Elizabeth—also covet Scotland. In set pieces that range from spectacular battles and royal festivities to unruly meetings of the Scottish parliament, John deftly leads his bands of dalesmen and moss-troopers to victory; meets with the English to settle border disputes; and is asked by the now adult Mary, Queen of Scots, to talk secretly with the plotting English and convey the message to Queen Elizabeth that she will choose her own husband. A natural survivor, John dies in 1594, ``the longest holder of the office on record.'' Tranter's modest hero, a ``Braveheart'' of his time, offers a detailed, accessible take on life north of the border as armies and ideas clash, and monarchs and courtiers plot.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-340-65994-7

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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