AMANDA/MIRANDA

Peck has unearthed one of the hoariest of chimney-corner romantic devices—the wobbly course of love and intrigue when two young things of diverse origins and temperament look exactly alike and cross destinies; and he displays it here in late-Edwardian satin, with agile prose and a straight face. Amanda, witchy and beautiful daughter of Lady Eleanor and Sir Timothy Whitwell of the Isle of Wight and London, has been born to command. . . while her look-alike, poor Mary Cooke (renamed Miranda), has been trained, in a hard-scrabble childhood, to serve. Thus, when Amanda begins thrashing with passion for chauffeur John Thorne, she snares Miranda for her personal maid and plots to marry her to Thorne. The plan succeeds—and Amanda, three months pregnant with Thorne's child, then accepts the proposal of nice idealistic American Gregory Forrest. The wedding is to be in New York, and with Thorne and Miranda attending the bridal couple in America, Amanda can carry on her affair with Thorne with Miranda as a visual cover. (Anyone would assume the woman in his arms to be wife Miranda.) So off go the two women to America—on the Titanic, of course—and in the midst of mid-Atlantic disaster, Miranda (though bitter about her mistress' nasty doings) tries to save Amanda. . . who dies in the cabin of a shipboard lover. (Thorne will take another liner.) Miranda is just barely rescued, badly injured about the face, and—what else? She drifts into the role of Amanda, marries an initially-fooled Gregory (Thorne visits, penetrates the disguise, but takes a decent farewell), has two children with her loving husband, and (very sweetly and quietly) has the soft last laugh. Throughout, there are subplot and character diversions aplenty: a dark ghostly matter involving the Whitwell's "dead" son; the bright pan-banging gossip of servants; the mayfly nuptial dance of a straggly housemaid. And the proceedings are always accompanied by parades of viands and sumptuous living. All in all, a gorgeously romantic, implausible affair comfy as eiderdown.

Pub Date: March 11, 1980

ISBN: 0141312173

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1980

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate.

NEVER LOOK BACK

An otherworldly Latinx retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the South Bronx.

Pheus visits his father in the Bronx every summer. The Afro-Dominican teen is known for his mesmerizing bachata music, love of history, and smooth way with the ladies. Eury, a young Puerto Rican woman and Hurricane Maria survivor, is staying with her cousin for the summer because of a recent, unspecified traumatic event. Her family doesn’t know that she’s been plagued since childhood by the demonlike Ato. Pheus and Eury bond over music and quickly fall in love. Attacked at a dance club by Sileno, its salacious and satyrlike owner, Eury falls into a coma and is taken to el Inframundo by Ato. Pheus, despite his atheism, follows the advice of his father and a local bruja to journey to find his love in the Underworld. Rivera skillfully captures the sounds and feels of the Bronx—its unique, diverse culture and the creeping gentrification of its neighborhoods. Through an amalgamation of Greek, Roman, and Taíno mythology and religious beliefs, gaslighting, the colonization of Puerto Rico, Afro-Latinidad identity, and female empowerment are woven into the narrative. While the pacing lags in the middle, secondary characters aren’t fully developed, and the couple’s relationship borders on instalove, the rush of a summertime romance feels realistic. Rivera’s complex world is well realized, and the dialogue rings true. All protagonists are Latinx.

This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate. (Fabulism. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0373-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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