In the latest rambling yarn from Obstfeld (The Joker and the Thief, 1993), alias Laramie Dunaway (Lessons in Survival, 1994, etc.), a young physician leaves her clinic after a series of disasters, hits the road, gives away a fortune, and ultimately nabs both a serial killer and a husband. Season Gottlieb can't seem to pass a quiet afternoon no matter how hard she tries. After her miscarriage, her overachiever surgeon fiancÇ declines rapidly and tries to shake himself out of depression by gunning down a waiting room full of Season's patients. Season, who is already down in the dumps over the miscarriage, becomes a bit blue herself, after the bloodbath, but attempts to even out the score by trekking cross-country to give 50 grand to each of the victims' next-of-kin. Her intentions are good, but simple charity is rarely that; Season soon raises her stakes, first by sleeping with most of the male survivors she calls upon and then by interposing herself into their private lives. This gets her into big trouble when a serial killer crosses her path, but Season finds a way to dispose of him properly and hang onto her new man, the widower of one of her fiancÇ's victims. Meanwhile, Obstfeld offers a killing dose of adventure, served up scalding from the cauldron. But while his smart-alecky voice and whiz-bang tone—``Our kissing lips made wet smacking noises like popping gum.''—would be perfect Marvel Comics, they overload what is, in fact, a longish novel and impart almost no focus whatever. Tediously episodic and overdone.

Pub Date: June 9, 1995

ISBN: 0-446-51835-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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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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