A wise, bittersweet conclusion to a sprawling tale of prehistoric war and peace.

Promised Valley Peace

VOLUME 4

In this fourth and final novel in Fritsch’s (Promised Valley Conspiracy, 2012, etc.) series, a sweeping new kind of warfare threatens an ancient valley and its peoples.

The valley’s rich farmland has for generations been a zone of contention between the farmers of the valley and the hunters of the less-inviting surrounding hills. Each side draws on a long tradition of beliefs assuring them that the gods intended the valley for their people and no others. Through three novels full of tension, betrayal and catastrophic warfare, the farmers and hunters have tried exchanging high-ranking hostages with each other in hopes of ensuring good behavior on both sides. One such move sends handsome, heroic Blue Sky to live among the hill people and eventually fall in love with one of them, a man named Wandering Star. The novel convincingly depicts a society in which homosexual relationships are conducted openly with no lessening of public esteem, and Fritsch handles the theme with a no-fuss skill reminiscent of Mary Renault’s. Another narrative thread follows the sarcastic agnosticism of the younger Promised Valley generation, which may be a satisfying innovation for 21st-century readers. Blue Sky, Wandering Star, and their various allies and enemies also contend with the introduction of horses as beasts of war in the valley’s latest conflagration. Fritsch tells a very detailed, very human story, although the opening 10 pages, a stultifying, bullet-point plot summary of the previous books in the series, may alienate new readers. Some of the book’s younger characters admirably seek to forge a real, lasting peace in their lifetimes, and the interminable threat of war allows Fritsch to make the conflict an allegory for every human conflict to come. There’s a sad moment of irony when a character late in the book hopes that their peoples will “never go to war again.”

A wise, bittersweet conclusion to a sprawling tale of prehistoric war and peace.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493672332

Page Count: 274

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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