A well-crafted story hiding under its more esoteric elements.


Green’s debut novel is a peculiar meditation on the natures of art and creation, well-paced with a singular character at its center.

The oddness of Green’s tale is immediate and at first a little disorienting. “In the beginning there was nothing. Then there was me,” says narrator Tilman Burbeck. “I appeared fully formed and whining, six years old and probably sick.” In the first dozen pages, he reveals his father is a statue, his mother having been raped at the Berlin Museum of Fine Art by a sculpture of the artist Tilman Riemenschneider, and his blood is made of stone. It’s tough to get a bead on Burbeck and whether, now looking back on his life as a 70-year-old, he means the things he’s saying metaphorically or literally. That confusion lingers, but it soon becomes part of the book’s charm as it establishes the logic of its world. Burbeck left behind a family that doesn’t quite understand him to navigate his way through art school, make friends, fall in love and deal with his muse, which in quiet moments appears to him as a kind of demon: “I will find her again. My Muse said I will. It may be half demon and speak in half-truths, but my Muse doesn’t lie. I’ll just have to be patient.” The first woman he devoted himself to was Lila Thornton, whom he met on a trip to Europe searching for his father. In his latter days, he says he is happily married to a different woman, tipping the fact that his relationship with Thornton, which spans the bulk of the book, ended at some point. Burbeck is torn between his devotion to his art and to other people, which leads to long passages of philosophical musing that threaten to kill momentum but don’t. This is a novel of search and discovery, the kind of thing that could easily be fatally precious. Yet Green’s characters are compelling, and the plot marches along subtly.

A well-crafted story hiding under its more esoteric elements.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1941877012

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Big Buddy Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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