While this begins as a depiction of modern lesbian life, it grows inexorably into a magical exploration of the deepest roots of life and death. Pollack (Temporary Agency, 1994, etc.) tells a story that shifts with remarkable ease between the world of mundanity and the world of fairy tale and folklore. Essentially, it falls into three, large movements (which do not quite match the novel's internal divisions). In the first, we meet Laurie and Jaqe, two college women who fall in love and (after Laurie drops out of graduate school) set up housekeeping. They have several disturbing encounters with a mysterious woman called Mother Night and her entourage of Motorcycle Girls. Jaqe eventually decides that she wants to become a mother; a friend finds an anonymous sperm donor, and in due course Jaqe gives birth to a daughter, Kate. Shortly thereafter, Jaqe dies—and we learn that Mother Night is Death incarnate. In the second section, we see Kate growing up (Laurie has adopted her), with Mother Night in the role of godmother. Kate is a bit of a misfit in school, but she moves easily in the ghostly world revealed to her by her godmother. Mother Night offers Kate, who is deeply affected by the suffering of others, a healing potion with which she can save some of those whom conventional medicine cannot help—but only those whom Mother Night tells her are not already doomed. In the third section, we see Kate grown up and working as a healer. When she begins to question Mother Night's decisions, she has to face a difficult choice—with the fate of her own lover in the balance. Throughout the narrative, Pollack finds graceful transitions between realistic portrayals of modern urban life and a fantastic landscape peopled with angry ghosts, lesbian biker Valkyries, and incarnations of supernatural powers. Tender and disturbing, down-to-earth and wildly inventive, this complex novel shows Pollack to be one of our best fantasists.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14606-X

Page Count: 355

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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