Fernando writes expressively and finds an appropriate emotional correlative to convey a variety of tones, from nostalgic to...

HOMESICK

A series of loosely concatenated stories focusing on the lives of first and second generation Sri Lankan immigrants in England.

The eponymous opening story introduces us to a large cast of characters, most of whom will play significant roles in later stories. The occasion for bringing everyone together is a 1982 New Year’s Eve party at Victor and Nandini’s home. Preethi, one of their three children, plays a particularly prominent role as we move through the book, for Fernando traces the vagaries of her romances, her marriage and her relationship to her own children. At the party, in an achingly honest response to the notion of their living out their dreams, Victor cries, “We belong nowhere...But if we belong anywhere, it is here. I have chosen here.” The desire to find a home indeed drives many of the characters, for they try to settle down, sometimes with the dreaded “white fellows” feared by Nandini’s brother. “Sophocles’ Chorus” explores the first love relationship of the 17-year-old Preethi and Ollie, a golden “boy-man” all of the girls aspire to. He casts a shadow over Freddie, who’s a great friend of Preethi’s but who yearns to be more. In a later story we learn that Preethi’s brother Rohan is struggling with his sexuality, for he feels attracted to both men and women. In “Honey Skin” we meet the 80-year-old Dorothy and discover she recently lost her husband, Hugo (who briefly appeared at the New Year’s Eve party), but still misses the sexual connection she had to him even though for years she’s fantasized about women. The penultimate story, “Meta General,” informs us that Preethi’s husband has lost his job, a victim of the 21st century economic downturn, while the final story focuses on the loss of a beloved aunt.

Fernando writes expressively and finds an appropriate emotional correlative to convey a variety of tones, from nostalgic to tragic.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95810-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Beach reading with an unsettling edge.

THE MATCHMAKER

Hilderbrand’s latest Nantucket heroine has a very particular kind of clairvoyance: She can always tell whether a couple is compatible or not.

Dabney Kimball Beech, 49, who heads up Nantucket’s Chamber of Commerce, is known for her headband, pearls, penny loafers and other preppy accoutrements, as well as her fabulous menus for tailgates and picnics. Then there's her track record of spotting perfect matches: If a couple is suited, she sees pink around them; if not, green. So far, her unerring intuition, augmented by artful introductions, has resulted in more than 40 long-term Nantucket marriages. As the wife of John Boxmiller Beech, aka Box, a Harvard economics professor who's frequently summoned to the Oval Office and whose benchmark textbook nets about $3 million a year, Dabney’s domestic life is serene—except that she's never gotten over her high school sweetheart, Clendenin "Clen" Hughes, a Pulitzer-winning journalist whose beat has been, until recently, Southeast Asia. Due to a childhood trauma involving a runaway mother, Dabney has been too phobic to leave Nantucket (except for four years at Harvard). Nearly three decades before, unable to follow in Clen’s globe-trotting footsteps, Dabney banished him from her life and from the life of their daughter, Agnes, who's never met her father, though she knows who he is. Now Clen is back on Nantucket—minus an arm. Agnes is engaged to the uber-rich, controlling and decidedly unclassy sports agent CJ. (This couple is definitely swathed in a green cloud.) Since Box is teaching in Cambridge during the week, the opportunity to resume an affair with Clen proves irresistible to DabneyThe complications mount until, suddenly, Hilderbrand’s essentially sunny setup, bolstered by many summer parties and picnics (and lavishly described meals, particularly seafood), takes a sudden, somber turn. Hilderbrand has a way of transcending the formulaic and tapping directly into the emotional jugular. Class is often an undercurrent in her work, but in this comedy of manners–turned–cautionary tale, luck establishes its own dubious meritocracy.

Beach reading with an unsettling edge.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-09975-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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