A wrenching story undermined by convoluted prose.



Centered around picturesque Trinidad, an emotionally arresting story about one woman’s struggles and epiphany.

Joseph’s second book of fiction (PROSE in the Key of Life, 2009) is a labyrinthine narrative in its multiple contours and even its dialogue. For example, in one scene, the protagonist laments: “I’ve lost my son; my daughter thinks my sister is her mother. The only man I’ve ever loved I abandoned for the high life. So whatever happens to me now, I don’t really care.” Loss is a recurring theme. Toward the end of the book, the protagonist, Annabelle, mourns the passing of her “dearly departed relatives”: in order, “Ricardo, Rosabelle, Ma, Pa, Troy, and Aunt Katherine.”  This is an eventful tale: Annabelle Castello escapes the banal squalor of her hometown, Bristol Village; she seeks (and ultimately finds) fame and fortune in urbane Port-of-Spain. But despite her material success, she remains fundamentally unsatisfied, always pining for a simpler, more fulfilling life. She returns to Bristol to locate the man she loved and left behind and the daughter she abandoned. Instead, she finds the love of her life has died and that a knot of drama awaits her. After multiple husbands come and go, and a funerary parade of relatives leaves this world, she also manages to become a drug mule. While the author’s style sometimes borders on lyrical, it has a tendency to drift toward the overly ornate. For example, one character is described as a “tall, exquisitely attired woman who appeared exceedingly conspicuous amid the staid ambience.” Among the author’s flashes of elegance are many clumsy and overwrought descriptions. Still, the novel remains an absorbing account of its hero’s slow and painful maturation.

A wrenching story undermined by convoluted prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475948356

Page Count: 326

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020


Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet