The title of this collection is ironic; any love that flows here is wayward and all too perishable.




The Icelandic-American novelist (Walking into the Night, 2003, etc.) titles the 12 stories in this collection after months of the year.

Fires burn merrily in the opening stories, the winter months, but the mood is bleak. Tomas, in “January,” is a decent guy crippled by emotional reserve; he failed his one serious love interest, Maureen, in her hour of need; ten years later, he fails her again. Jon and Linda (“February”) had a good marriage until Jon strayed. Both want to repair the damage, but the prospects are dimmed by a clever surprise ending. Karl and Jenny, Icelanders vacationing at a Colorado ski resort (“March”), also have a solid marriage, but an accident reopens the wound caused by their childlessness. The longer stories have a richer emotional texture. Johann and Karen were a close-knit couple until Karen met Janet; it was love at first sight for both of them (“May”). The couple’s breakup is amicable until a garage sale of their belongings, when Johann goes berserk, in an electrifying close. In the deliciously twisty “June,” Soley is a newlywed devoted to both her controlling father and her seemingly strong husband, but exposure to his disorder (vertigo) and her father’s wiles end her marriage. Not all the stories end in disaster. Jakob, on vacation in Slovenia with his wife, Iris, suffers paranoia and anxiety over a dalliance that occurred there years before, but there’s a glimmer of a happy ending (“August”). Edda is a quiet, conservative Icelander married to an American, Mark, a brash lightweight (“September”). Does she love him or just pity him? The jury is out. There’s not an ounce of fat on most of these stories; Olafsson is an admirably brisk, compelling narrator. In the two skimpy tales that end the year, however, he seems to be running out of steam, perhaps a prisoner of his own format.

The title of this collection is ironic; any love that flows here is wayward and all too perishable.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-375-42468-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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


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?



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?