One man’s terrifying story of survival in an Arctic wasteland reverberates profoundly in the life of his distant descendant.

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NORTHERNMOST

A writer explores her family’s humble Norwegian roots.

In 1897, Norwegian fisherman Odd Einar Eide sets sail hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle on a seal hunt. When his companion is slaughtered by a polar bear, Odd Einar must survive alone in the “fine desolation” of ice and snow for two weeks, until he’s rescued by a passing ship. Given up for dead by his wife, Inger, Odd Einar returns home in the midst of his own funeral, forcing the impoverished couple to face the challenge of restoring their already fragile relationship. That task is complicated by the lingering ache from the absence of their daughter, Thea, departed two years earlier for America and silent since that time. Odd Einar’s tale is framed by the story of his descendant Greta Nansen, a freelance journalist living in present-day Minneapolis, who embarks on the project of reclaiming her family’s history as her own marriage of 20 years implodes. Alternating between the “rocky shore of hardened, desperate people living in poverty and gloom” in 19th-century rural Norway and Greta’s life, where, despite her material comfort, loneliness is "the only feeling she had anymore,” Geye (Wintering, 2016, etc.) artfully spans 120 years of the Eide family’s story. With equal skill, he portrays Odd Einar’s dramatic confrontation with implacable nature while exploring the tension between terror and resignation that haunts the involuntary adventurer’s every step in that crisis. The choice to pair this pulsating adventure story with the subdued domestic drama of Greta’s failed marriage and her discovery of the possibility of new love with musician Stig Hjalmarson when she impulsively travels to her ancestral home in the remote village of Hammerfest is not without risk. But Geye maintains an elegant counterpoint between the two narratives so that the novel is equally satisfying whether it’s situated in the past or present.

One man’s terrifying story of survival in an Arctic wasteland reverberates profoundly in the life of his distant descendant.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65575-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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