A lackluster entry in the men-who-write-mush category, which Nicholas Sparks (see below) still has pretty much to himself.


Can love last forever? Is forever longer than this interminable first novel?

After his wife dies, Mickey Sienna rattles around in his suburban New Jersey colonial. Physically frail but mentally sharp, the former stockbroker still trades online, but when he escapes an accidental kitchen fire, his grown kids put in their two cents. Maybe dear old dad should be parked in an assisted-living facility where he can’t hurt himself. Or at least sell the house and buy a smaller place. Yes, says Mickey, but what about the memories? Get out your handkerchiefs, because here come more than 50 years of marriage to saintly but dull Dorothy. They had some swell kids, too: Darlene, Matty, Denise, and a surprise fourth baby, Jesse, who’s 20 years younger than Darlene and trying to figure out why he gets along better with his nieces and nephews than with his siblings. (Hint: he’s amazingly immature.) This strapping toddler is now 32 and only just beginning to realize that the world does not revolve around him. But why? He thinks and thinks. “I was too young for one group and too old for the other. I was a man without a generation.” Jesse is a sensitive soul who’s wary of making a commitment but tired of playing the field, what with all that emotional scar tissue on his metaphorical heart. Yes, Jesse is a thoroughly modern Millie for the millennium, a man with genuine issues, who’s not afraid to talk about his feelings at great length, as if a talk-show audience were hanging on every word. A multitude of supporting characters give their opinions and add a few details about what happened when. Then there’s one last gasp from Dad, who explains about his long-lost love; he still loves her and she still loves ice cream. The message? Gather ye rosebuds, of course.

A lackluster entry in the men-who-write-mush category, which Nicholas Sparks (see below) still has pretty much to himself.

Pub Date: May 19, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30405-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet