A charming anti-romance. Devereaux-Nelson’s group of guys learns a touching lesson from the girls: Sometimes, all you need...

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IN VIOLET'S WAKE

A witty and insightful debut about the support group five ex-husbands form after their marriages to one alluring, albeit troubled, lady.

Husband No. 6, Marshall, knew about Violet’s past—her five previous marriages—but like any heartsick schmuck, he thought he’d be “the one.” But he wasn’t. When Violet leaves him, he convinces himself she is returning to Costa (husband No. 2) and decides to track him down at his Greek restaurant. After drunken accusations, a little brawling and embarrassed apologies, Marshall learns that Costa is now happily married with two kids. But boy, does he know what it’s like to be dumped by Violet. To help Marshall avoid what he went through (a flirtation with alcoholism and bankruptcy) and to serve as a cautionary tale, Costa drives them to see husband No. 3. Since Violet divorced him, Brian has retreated into a world dominated by his bipolar disorder and has since created a house covered in hubcaps. Surprisingly, the three enjoy commiserating, and soon, husband No. 4, Owen, a grumpy vet, and No. 5, Tim, an IT expert, are tracked down (husband No. 1, the wealthy and older Winston, died), and the five form a kind of support group–cum–super club. The mysterious Violet is seen only through the husbands’ recollections and the notes of her current therapist, though it is clear she has serious issues and has left a wide swath of heartache in her wake. Though the men try to convince Marshall he’s better off now that Violet is gone, secretly Owen has maintained a friendship with her over the years, hoping to one day win her back. In their last conversation, Violet confesses her latest obsession to Owen—she’s going after the “one who got away,” her high school crush, Jake. The men decide they have to warn Jake, if only they can find him before Violet does.

A charming anti-romance. Devereaux-Nelson’s group of guys learns a touching lesson from the girls: Sometimes, all you need is to talk it over with friends.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59376-534-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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