A dreamy fable confronting love, death, and our inevitable inadequacy yet persistence in the face of both.

WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

A snow-swept journey to the ends of the Earth continues Cameron's exploration of defamiliarized landscapes and the intricacies of human relationships.

A husband and wife arrive by train into the endless winter night of a mysterious Arctic region. The woman is dying of cancer; as her body erodes, her connection to—and patience for—her husband vanishes with it, but after suffering a succession of pregnancy losses throughout their marriage, she is determined to provide him with a family, a child, before she dies. They have come to the town of Borgarfjaroasysla (like Cameron's Andorra before it, a name that recalls a real place but which is released from the confines of reality through a reimagined geography and, in this case, a slightly different name) to claim a foundling at the local orphanage, the only place on Earth, given their age and the woman's failing health, that would agree to an adoption. They settle into the vast Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel, bedecked in the antiquated opulence of a bygone era and, like the town around it, sparsely occupied but filled with eerie tensions. On their first night there, the man ventures down to the hotel bar, a dark, low-ceilinged burrow emanating a red glow through a glass-beaded curtain. Here, over snifters of the regional specialty, a curious liqueur made of lichen "tinged with the silvery blue glow that snow reflects at twilight," he meets a striking, eccentric old woman named Livia Pinheiro-Rima, who quickly assumes a role in the couple's life that's half meddlesome spirit, half fairy godmother. The next morning, rather than delivering them to the orphanage to meet their son, their taxi deposits them at the home of Brother Emmanuel, a renowned healer and the only draw for travelers to the town besides the orphanage, whom Livia has decided the woman needs more than she needs a baby. Having ferried his wife to this enchanted hinterland on the threshold of eternity, where life, nature, and time flow to a dilated rhythm and she embraces the metamorphosis that awaits her, the man emerges, ambivalently, at times reluctantly, into a transformation of his own.

A dreamy fable confronting love, death, and our inevitable inadequacy yet persistence in the face of both.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948226-96-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Gigantic, strange, exquisite, terrifying, and replete with mystery.

TO PARADISE

A triptych of stories set in 1893, 1993, and 2093 explore the fate of humanity, the essential power and sorrow of love, and the unique doom brought upon itself by the United States.

After the extraordinary reception of Yanagihara's Kirkus Prize–winning second novel, A Little Life (2015), her follow-up could not be more eagerly awaited. While it is nothing like either of her previous novels, it's also unlike anything else you've read (though Cloud Atlas, The House of Mirth, Martin and John, and Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy may all cross your mind at various points). More than 700 pages long, the book is composed of three sections, each a distinct narrative, each set in a counterfactual historical iteration of the place we call the United States. The narratives are connected by settings and themes: A house on Washington Square in Greenwich Village is central to each; Hawaii comes up often, most prominently in the second. The same names are used for (very different) characters in each story; almost all are gay and many are married. Even in the Edith Wharton–esque opening story, in which the scion of a wealthy family is caught between an arranged marriage and a reckless affair, both of his possible partners are men. Illness and disability are themes in each, most dramatically in the third, set in a brutally detailed post-pandemic totalitarian dystopia. Here is the single plot connection we could find: In the third part, a character remembers hearing a story with the plot of the first. She mourns the fact that she never did get to hear the end of it: "After all these years I found myself wondering what had happened....I knew it was foolish because they weren't even real people but I thought of them often. I wanted to know what had become of them." You will know just how she feels. But what does it mean that Yanagihara acknowledges this? That is just one of the conundrums sure to provoke years of discussion and theorizing. Another: Given the punch in the gut of utter despair one feels when all the most cherished elements of 19th- and 20th-century lives are unceremoniously swept off the stage when you turn the page to the 21st—why is the book not called To Hell?

Gigantic, strange, exquisite, terrifying, and replete with mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54793-2

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 80

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more