A breezy but uneven look at romance among the jet set.

IMAGINARY AFFAIRS

A wealthy widow’s search for love leads to a voyage of self-discovery and a plethora of complications in this debut novel.

Mallory Hill is a businesswoman who’s experienced a lifetime’s worth of achievement and heartbreaking loss. Born in America, she relocated to Europe, where she built a successful company with her second husband. They sold the company to travel around the world, but he died while they were in Hong Kong. She now divides her time between London and Cannes, France, and dates Michael Graham, a married man who says he will never leave his wife. For her 50th birthday, she treats herself to 10 days at the Chiva Som spa in Thailand. While there, she meets Brad Miller, a retired Canadian businessman, who shares her passion for travel. Mallory is besotted with Brad and thinks he may be “Husband Number Three,” but their romance will have to wait until he returns from Nepal. In the meantime, Mallory ends her relationship with Michael and moves to Cannes, where she will reunite with Brad. While she waits for Brad to contact her, Mallory amuses herself by accepting dates with several eligible bachelors, including Derek Dearing, a paunchy older man, and Dandridge Larkin, a dashing, ambitious producer. Soon Brad’s unusual behavior and a series of broken promises cause her to question if there’s more to him than meets the eye. Arkus’ book presents an engaging, briskly paced tale of a woman’s quest for love and fulfillment that’s bolstered by a large cast of characters and a wicked sense of humor. Mallory is a winsome heroine whose gregarious and adventurous personality attracts a wide range of friends and potential suitors. Her desire for true love is the story’s emotional center and the source of the novel’s most humorous moments, particularly a country-house encounter with a friend’s randy husband. Her relationship with Brad blossoms quickly, and his character is primarily developed through phone calls and a short visit by his brother, Sanford. The strong supporting characters include Mallory’s close friend Kate Handler, a confidante with an equally tumultuous romantic life, and Michael. That said, inconsistent editing sometimes slows the narrative’s momentum. For example, Mallory’s friend Colleen’s last name is given as both “O’Brien” and “O’Brian,” and the actress Brigitte Bardot is referred to as “Bridget Bardot.”

A breezy but uneven look at romance among the jet set.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-68470-372-2

Page Count: 201

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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