by Richard Peck ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 1983
By the author of Amanda/Miranda and other entertainments: a four-generational set of stout-hearted ladies—tough, wily, dwarfing their men, independent, and passing along their survivalist strengths to their daughters (often at a chilly or chary distance). Lena Wheatley tells her story of the wagon-train trek from Illinois to California in 1850, when she was a shy, wary 14: she loses her mother to TB and loses friends, particularly her "idol," the beautiful, graceful Sarah Ann, to an Indian attack; only after the searing journey is over does Lena, scalded by loss, dare to take comfort in the remnants of family—her adoptive Pa and Sarah Ann's wounded brother Lorenzo; she'll marry miner/farmer Evan after Pa's death. And then. . . Sarah Ann is found!—now a tattooed "savage," mind-crippled and pregnant by a Mojave husband. The two women are thereafter linked for life: Lena's child is whiny Opal, whom she idolizes; Sarah Ann will bear Effie, whom Lena will reluctantly adopt as her own. So, in generation #2, Effie tells of the move to a boarding house in Nebraska—where gruff, kind Sophie Wilhelm takes on widowed Lena as housekeeper, Sarah Ann as cook, grooming the despised Effie as a society beauty; and Effie's infatuation for Lorenzo forces Lena to tell the truth of her parentage. Effie's daughter Constance will host the next segment—as the narrative leaps from hard-time brothel days (Lena must diversify after the great fire of 1875) to silks and furs and San Francisco, where Effie, married to theater impresario Anton Nicholas, is now "Eve Waring"—a turquoise-eyed beauty who'll pack houses as an actress (and net the Prince of Wales). Constance's tale, however, spreads into other family matters: horrid Aunt Opal has married and produced twin boys, one of whom, gambler and sadist Terry, marries Constance's best friend Rose (who'll take terrible revenge); Constance marries Englishman Hugh, who's killed in the Boer war (but waiting at home is her fellow architect Joe); Constance's son Anton meets Rose's daughter June during WW I; June later dies. So the last testimony is Anton's tribute in 1939 to a Family of Women. . . and his own young daughter. Winey, full-bodied, gossipy, offering both calico and satin: a romantically styled winner.
Pub Date: April 18, 1983
Page Count: 420
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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