For all its incidental charms, one of Price’s lesser novels, scattered and indecisive.


Death hovers over an anxious homecoming in the venerable southern writer’s 14th novel.

Mabry Kincaid is flying back home from Europe to New York on September 11, 2001, when his plane is diverted to Nova Scotia. It will be days before the 53-year-old art conservator finds out whether his loft, just blocks from the Twin Towers, is still intact. On impulse Mabry returns to his family home in North Carolina, where his father, a retired Episcopalian priest, is in bad shape. Price (Noble Norfleet, 2002, etc.) lures the reader with a number of maybes rather than a plot. Tasker Kincaid may be at death’s door; son Mabry may be diagnosed soon with multiple sclerosis; the painting he collected in Paris for a WTC client (now presumed dead) may conceal a priceless van Gogh sketch. Only one of these matters gets resolved. Tasker at least is in good hands, tended by Audrey and her teenaged son, Marcus, black folks long linked to the Kincaids. But who will tend to Mabry, who’s experiencing temporary blindness and numbness? His wife died back in April, and he’s estranged from daughter Charlotte. That’s Mabry’s fault; he cheated on his wife so often she threw him out when Charlotte was 12. But his faults don’t keep self-pity from welling up, especially after Tasker admits that his greatest love was for Mabry’s brother, Gabriel, killed years before in a hunting accident. Very much in the Price mold, this is a tale of family ties, broken but partially restored, of confessions and reconciliations. It’s not only Mabry who couldn’t keep his pants zipped: Tasker confesses to once taking advantage of three female parishioners; young Marcus confesses to impregnating his cousin at age 15. Yet the churning emotions lack a strong narrative framework, and Mabry’s hand-wringing over his possible MS symptoms becomes tedious, as does the warmed-over angst following 9/11, including a scene close to Ground Zero.

For all its incidental charms, one of Price’s lesser novels, scattered and indecisive.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-5400-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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