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WHO KILLED CORIOLANUS? (TROY TO ROME BOOK 2)

An enjoyable escape read, sometimes undermined by frivolous scenes, with contemporary relevance and likable leads.

Fritsch’s unique twist on ancient Greece and early Rome offers more adventures of Timon, last surviving member of Troy’s royal family, and his companion, Lukas.

In Fritsch’s version of the Greek myth, Timon is son of Helen, the Spartan beauty, and Paris, the Trojan prince who brought her to Troy, which precipitated the Trojan War. After Paris was killed and Troy destroyed, Helen married Menelaus. They’ve reigned as king and queen of Sparta for the past 17 years. When they brought baby Timon to Sparta, they placed him in an orphanage to ensure his safety. He grew up with Lukas, his best friend, lover, and musical soul mate. Timon has only recently learned of his royal lineage. Now he and Lukas live together in the palace. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the fledging republic of Rome, populated two decades earlier by Trojan escapees. Former Trojan landowner Coriolanus, now commander of the Roman army and navy, sends his 18-year-old son, Marco, to Sparta to invite Timon, whose existence has recently become public, for a visit. In Rome, the three young men establish a ménage à trois, and Fritsch devotes considerable narrative space to their carefree, libidinous romps. Unfortunately, their frolicking, less poignant than the earlier novel’s Timon-Lukas love story, threatens to overwhelm the novel’s more intriguing underpinnings, which deal with political avarice and gender equality, the latter represented by the story’s strongest female character, Thalia, captain of her own merchant ship. Gradually, Timon realizes Coriolanus’ invitation was part of a plan to replace the republic with a monarchy. He intends to seize power during the upcoming senate elections, in which the “plebeians,” who now have the right to vote, have forced the patricians to run against Brutus, the populist hero. Readers will recognize Coriolanus’ scheme to overthrow the popular vote by violence as a haunting reminder of America’s current political climate and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Following the structure of his series opener, Fritsch hands over alternating narration to the three primary characters—Timon, Lukas, and Marco, giving the novel three distinct, engaging voices, although only Marco faces emotionally compelling conflict.

An enjoyable escape read, sometimes undermined by frivolous scenes, with contemporary relevance and likable leads.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2021

ISBN: 979-8985072600

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Asymmetric Worlds

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2021

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

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An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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