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PROMISED VALLEY WAR

A captivating novel that will transport readers back to prehistory times—while reminding them of their own.

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War erupts in a peaceful prehistoric valley.

  Tensions were already brewing in Fritsch's Promised Valley Rebellion (2010), in which a group of young people living in the relatively benign and loosely organized prehistoric community of Promised Valley rebelled against their king and his council in reaction to a seemingly arbitrary, tyrannical ruling the king had made. That rebellion revolved around the hidden past of Rose Leaf, the beautiful young daughter of war-hero farmer Green Field, and it led to war with the hill people whose marauding ways are a constant threat to the inhabitants of Promised Valley. In Fritsch's latest novel (which is given depth by a reading of the first book but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book), despite the best efforts of that same group of young people, war between the valley people and the hill people has erupted again. The author’s well-rendered descriptions of the creeping onslaught of war and winter give the reader a visceral feel for the endangered paradise that can occur despite the best intentions of the best people, and readers will be surprised by the twists he gives his tale. Alongside the careful plotting and natural-sounding dialogue, there's a refreshing amount of deeper resonances in the Promised Valley series, a steady undercurrent of commentary of the present day. The treatment of the young hero Blue Sky's attraction to other men, for instance, is straightforward but nonconfrontational, and characters at several points grapple with their society's primitive theology. “Could gods who were good-hearted … allow humans to go to war with one another?” the narrative at one point asks. “[I]f they, like humans, had no choice in the matter, why did humans call them gods?” The novel will leave readers eager to find out what happens next in Promised Valley. Luckily, Fritsch has plans to add two more volumes to the series.  

A captivating novel that will transport readers back to prehistory times—while reminding them of their own.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615567297

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Asymmetric Worlds

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2012

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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