In this last of Woolley's Arthurian trilogy, Queen Guinevere witnesses the crumbling of the kingdom and knightly brotherhood at Camelot, loses husband and lover, and, though committed to the Mother Goddess and the Old Ways, lives out her days in a Christian convent. Again, as in Child of the Northern Spring 1987) and Queen of the Summer Stars (1990), the old legends are bleached free of that ancient tingly magic, and the dialogue is entertainingly anachronistic (Guinevere on the Holy Grail quest: ``Frankly, I think it's a dreadful idea''). Still, the author has corralled most of the Arthurain heroes—from the Green Knight to the string of G's (Gawain, Gareth, Gahert, Geraint, and Galahad). Narrated by Guinevere (who reports events with the efficient dispatch of a Mary Kay section manager), the story begins in her prison cell; she's scheduled for execution in the morning. By 400 pages later, just why she's in the pokey is revealed and the past few years reviewed: her marriage to Arthur (a union of affection and mutual respect); her platonic affair with Lancelot, the Queen's Champion and the greatest knight, ending in a bittersweet consummation; the ``spiritual'' quest for the Grail, embraced most fervently by Galahad, Lancelot's son by Elaine-not-so-pure; the disastrous relationship between Arthur and Modred, his son by his half-sister; the plots of Morgan, another sister and priestess Lady of the Lake; the clash of Christian and pagan religions. There is much travel and travail, tournaments and tilts of will, deaths and panting messengers. Arthurian tales in a chatty modern idiom, with old buddies like ``Lance'' and ``Tris'' and ``Guin'' doing their still- marvelous stuff.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-70831-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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