Revoyr’s sleek prose and fast pacing move the reader through the sharply observed world of old money and the bad behavior it...

READ REVIEW

A STUDENT OF HISTORY

An entertaining, crisply written tale of a young man uncovering dangerous secrets takes place not on Los Angeles’ mean streets but among the luxurious estates of its old-money families.

The sixth novel by Revoyr (Lost Canyon, 2015, etc.) evokes echoes of Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, and a lot of Raymond Chandler, but with a thoroughly 21st-century setting. Rick Nagano is a graduate student in history at USC, broke and struggling with dissertation writer’s block, when he’s hired as a research assistant by a grand dame of local high society. Mrs. W—, as he calls her, is still a beauty in her 70s and, thanks to her legendary oilman grandfather, enormously rich. She’s also resolutely private; she hires him to transcribe her personal journals with the stipulation he not share what he learns from them. The job expands as he becomes her escort to social events, exposing him to a dizzying world of wealth and privilege his blue-collar background hasn’t prepared him for. Mrs. W—'s journals expose him to a history of the city he never knew existed, either, one filled with secrets that tempt his scholarly side. Even more tempting is Fiona Morgan, heir to another huge fortune, a beauty much younger than Mrs. W— who takes quite an interest in Rick. His sentimental education at the hands of Mrs. W— and Fiona turns into a detective story of sorts; its big revelation isn’t that hard to predict, but getting there is enjoyable.

Revoyr’s sleek prose and fast pacing move the reader through the sharply observed world of old money and the bad behavior it protects.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61775-663-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more