An engaging novel featuring a winning character who struggles to find her path.

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SELLING PENCILS, AND CHARLIE

In Perry’s debut novel, a young woman discovers that her beloved books haven’t prepared her for real life.

In 1963, Pamela Carey is following her late mother Alice’s dream of self-sufficiency. The young woman is an English major at UCLA who hopes to become a professor. Her boyfriend, Warren, is a superior student and a subpar third baseman who acts as her stabilizing influence. However, she finds herself pursuing the boy who got away—Charlie Fain, on whom she’s had a crush since Catholic school. Charlie’s now the star of their school’s baseball team and Warren's teammate. Pamela must also watch over her father, Mickey, a punch-drunk former boxer who’s also a womanizing alcoholic. Pamela and Charlie flirt with each other, which leads to Charlie’s mother’s catching them in his room, semiclothed. Charlie soon invites Pamela to his first game in Single-A pro baseball. They later marry, and Pamela must learn how to find fulfillment as a ballplayer’s wife. This becomes harder after Charlie is injured and his career stalls. In Pamela, Perry has created a character who, in part, follows the expectations of her time; women in the early 1960s were often seen, especially by men, as nurturers, first and foremost. The author depicts Pamela as going a step further, becoming an enabler to both Mickey and Charlie—and her own, separate ambitions suffer as a result. The protagonist seems to learn little from Alice’s lectures or the cautionary tales of Jane Austen and the Brontës, as she ends up having to choose between milquetoast Warren and roguish Charlie when neither one will suffice. It isn’t until the author has Pamela abandon her dependence on unreliable men and make hard choices that the character gets back on track. As a result, this is a beguiling volume—one that offers readers a journey that’s painful but ultimately educational.

An engaging novel featuring a winning character who struggles to find her path.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Garden Oak Press

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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

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