Another lavishly detailed epic of ancient Egypt from the New Zealand-born author of The Twelfth Transforming (1984), etc., as well as Stargate, a 1982 science-fiction title recently made into a movie. Here, Thu, a young woman more a.d. 1990s than 1100s b.c., will take on both Ramses III and the powerful priesthood as she strives for power, fame, and her beloved Egypt. The narrator of her own story of rags to riches and back to rags, Thu is an uneasy mix of Louisa May Alcott's Jo and one of Stephen King's adolescent horrorsthe blue-eyed daughter of peasants who, right from toddlerhood, yearns for something better. As a girl, Thu is trained by her illiterate motherthe local midwife, family-planner, and abortionistto follow in her footsteps. But, in secret, Thu, knowing she'll not make a good midwife, gets her older brother to teach her to read. A quick study, she dreams of leaving the village. ``I must get away from here or I will die,'' she says. And get away she does as, at only 12, she sneaks aboard the barge of visiting state seer and physician Hui and offers herself to him. Hui, however, has recently seen a blue-eyed girl in a vision and has other plans for this child. She's taken back to his home in the city, where she's taught history, politics, the appropriate etiquette and dress for a lady, as well as how to administer poisons. Thu is also cold-bloodedly ruthless and, with Hui's help, becomes for a time the favorite concubine of the Pharaoh. Later, when rejected by Ramses, she tries to murder him and his current favorite. She'll survive the incidentthough in disgrace. Splendid set-piece scenes cry out for movie treatment, but Thu is an anachronistic and unconvincing early Egyptian feminist.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1995

ISBN: 1-56947-043-X

Page Count: 513

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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