With humor and pithy human insights, Taylor continues pleasing readers with the escapades of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

AN IRISH DOCTOR IN PEACE AND AT WAR

Taylor (Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor, 2013, etc.) reminds fans that even in the peaceable kingdom of County Antrim and County Down, good men shed blood when Hitler infected Europe.

Taylor moves back and forth between 1960s Northern Ireland and the wartime travails of 1939-40, with minor emergencies and mysterious illnesses at home and terrifying adventures at sea. In 1966, Dr. Fingal O’Reilly is married to his first love, Kitty, but the book’s passionate romance comes as Fingal recalls his wartime courtship of first wife Deirdre, a nurse midwife in training. Taylor’s gift is dialect (there’s a glossary)—“a shmall little minute to toast and butter the bramback”—and sentences end with “so” or “bye.” When the war starts, Fingal is assigned to the battleship HMS Warspite as medical officer. Covering Royal Navy battles at Westfjord in Norway and later in the Mediterranean off Italy, Taylor’s descriptive powers are as mighty as Warspite’s 15-inch naval rifles—“[h]e had to grab onto a handrail...the noise that surrounded him like an impenetrable wall and by its force seemed to be crushing his chest.” At Warspite’s new home port of Alexandria, Taylor offers a précis on the last days of the gin-and-tonic empire as world war washed over ancient Egypt. There, lonely Fingal is tempted with a love affair. As Warspite sails, characters step aboard, most compelling the medical detachment’s stalwart leader, Surgeon Cmdr. Wilcoxson, and Tom Laverty, ship’s navigator and father of Fingal’s future partner, each of whom support Fingal, wide-eyed country doctor, who shakily steps into operating theaters where emergency amputations and bloody trepanning are de rigueur. But Fingal's true domain is Ireland's green-drenched landscape, “coarse marram grass hillocks that lay between the glen and the shingly shore," with familiar Ballybucklebo characters like young partner Barry, medical student Jenny, and his newly married housekeeper, Kinky.

With humor and pithy human insights, Taylor continues pleasing readers with the escapades of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3836-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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