Children's author Grimes (From a Child's Heart, 1993, etc.) does an adult turn with this mild historical fiction about the mother of Jesus. Largely narrated in the first person, the novel tells the familiar story of Mary in a simple, pious way that is sure to please fundamentalist believers. Coming of age in the backwater of Galilee, ruled by the evil and tyrannical puppet-king Herod, Mary is attracted to the carpenter, Joseph, by his muscular good looks and his love of God. She is betrothed to him when she is visited by the Archangel Gabriel, who announces that she has conceived a child by the spirit of God. She envisions opprobrium and rejection as a result of this ``illegitimate'' pregnancy, but Joseph stands by her and vows to keep the matter private between them. Forced to flee to Egypt to avoid the mass infanticide ordered by Herod, they return only after the monarch's death. Jesus, the son she bears, impresses all those around him, and Mary remembers the promise of Gabriel and the old prophecies, but she still doesn't fully understand. Finally, Jesus embarks on a ministry of which she is no real part. She sees him only occasionally and is confused when he spurns her. She watches helplessly as he is arrested and executed. When he is raised from the dead, in fulfillment of the prophecies, Mary, like Doubting Thomas, refuses to believe it until she has seen it with her own eyes—after which she emerges believing and exultant. Passages from the Gospels punctuate the text and serve to give it a homogenized story line culled from disparate parts of the biblical tradition. Attempts to add resonance to the bare-bones account by portraying Mary's inner thoughts are only sometimes successful. Boy meets girl. Girl gives birth to Messiah. Messiah dies. Messiah lives. Enough said.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-173199-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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