PERFECT TOGETHER

A sophisticated, naughty tale of a fast-track lawyer's near collapse when her husband sires a child with their spaced-out maid- -told with liberal doses of cynicism and dark-side humor by the author of Uncharted Places (1988), Tender Offer (1986), etc. It was a perfect New York marriage: Fran, the petite European- bred sophisticate, a divorce lawyer with a boyish bob and excellent taste in home decoration, and Charlie, her dreamy physicist husband from the stolid depths of Ohio. Perfect, at least, until they had to go and ruin it all by giving up their rent-controlled apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side and spontaneously moving to the suburbs. The obvious next step? A baby, of course. But Fran, nearing 40, proves unable to conceive. As the burdens of faulty water-heaters and commuter train schedules begin to weigh tiresomely on the couple's well-upholstered shoulders, Charlie's eye begins to stray toward the kitchen, where Ellie, the scattered but obviously fertile Irish-American maid and mother of two, is haphazardly washing dishes. Before they know it, Ellie's pregnant, and when Charlie proves so proud of his lineage that he begs Fran to join with him and adopt the child, the roof blows off their cozy coexistence. Careers, cherished personal philosophies, and simple decorum go flying out the window as Ellie runs off with her spiritual counselor, Charlie turns househusband and father, and a bitterly resentful Fran hits the rush-hour traffic to support her husband and a child she doesn't love. Before this battle ends, everyone's lives will have been turned inside out a number of times, and Fran will have ended up with both more and less than she ever bargained for. A breath of fresh air in the often sentimental mommy-book genre.

Pub Date: July 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-93316-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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