THE COVER ARTIST

Another refreshingly literate and witty novel by Micou (The Music Programme, 1990), whose chronicle of a hapless young man at the mercy of a worldly and often corrupt society is gratifyingly reminiscent of Waugh and Wodehouse. When his nude caricatures of famous figures made the eponymously named magazine Lowdown a surprising success, New Yorker Oscar Lemoine, accompanied by Elizabeth, his extraordinary Labrador, fled to the south of France. There, he hoped to work in peace and ``cultivate the more extroverted personality that would be required to carry on in New York, if he ever chose to return.'' Now, while back in New York for a brief and ultimately cathartic visit, he recalls his experiences in the small resort town of Val d`Argent. Exquisitely blind to the reality of the resort residents' lives, Lemoine had fallen in love with the beautiful Veronique, the darling of the local jet-set. Unaware that she was married to the sinister and ancient Herr Dohrmann, whom Lemoine took to be her father, his pursuit was fraught with the usual comic consequences of mistaken identity. But what raises Lemoine's story above the potentially banal is Elizabeth, his guardian angel, his confidante, and finally his savior. Elizabeth, wise in the ways of man, also paints somber examples of Canine Expressionism, which are received with great acclaim. Affected by the increasing crudeness of Lowdown, Lemoine again resigns and decides to live in France permanently, but further disillusionment awaits him there—only Elizabeth's final loving gift offers some hope. Micou deftly chronicles the absurdities of fashion and society, and, while wittily recounting this rite of passage, he also writes a moving love story of a man and his dog.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-72938-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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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