The author clearly believes his subject has been shortchanged by history, but Meagher’s failure at almost everything that...


Historical fiction by western veteran Wheeler (The Deliverance, 2003, etc.), based on the life of an Irish rebel who served as a Union general in the Civil War.

Exiled to Australia for inciting rebellion against British rule, Thomas Francis Meagher (1823–67) escapes to the teeming slums of 1852 New York. There, he quickly finds supporters, making his mark as a public speaker for the Irish cause. But while Meagher’s oratory brings him fame among his fellow exiles, it doesn’t bring him a living. Nor are his friends among the Tammany Democrats able to offer him any useful position, although he passes the bar and sets up law offices. His lack of income weighs more on him after he marries the daughter of a successful New York businessman. After nearly ten years of drifting, Meagher finds a purpose in the Civil War. He raises and commands an Irish brigade for the Union, thinking that seasoned veterans could then return to free Ireland from the British. But war changes him. He becomes a firm abolitionist, despite his countrymen’s fear that freed blacks will take the jobs now open only to the Irish. His troops see fierce action at Antietam and Fredericksburg, two of the bloodiest battles of the war, before Meagher is eased out of command, accused—perhaps unfairly—of drunkenness in the face of battle. Out of favor with the postwar government, he wangles an appointment as secretary to the governor of Montana. Arriving at his post, he finds himself effectively in charge, though the local powers, largely radical Republicans, oppose him at every turn. His death remains a mystery; Wheeler's suggestion that political enemies killed Meagher is certainly convincing.

The author clearly believes his subject has been shortchanged by history, but Meagher’s failure at almost everything that matters to him makes it difficult to see why the historical verdict should be overturned.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-87847-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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