A lonely Kentucky college professor and a peripatetic young actress bring out the worst in each other in this lackluster romance by Bingham, author of the much better Matron of Honor (1993) and Small Victories (1992). Colby Winn had hoped to leave behind his Kentucky-mountain roots when he graduated from Harvard, married the daughter of one of the university's department heads, and landed a respectable teaching position of his own. Within the decade, however, a divorce and subsequent expulsion from East Coast academia sent Colby back to Louisville and all the old conflicts he'd hoped to leave behind. Some of these long-suppressed passions emerge one day when, driving from his soulless home to his dreary state university classroom, Colby picks up a pretty young hitchhiker named Ann Lee. A Kentucky miner's daughter working her way across the country, Ann announces her plans to take an acting job in Louisville's theater company. Colby, instantly smitten, pursues her there and soon finds that the actress is easy to capture but hard to keep. As Colby and Ann exchange stories of his cold and abusive father and her dependent mother, Colby finds himself longing to establish a permanent alliance with this girl and at the same time, inexplicably, to drive her away. Shocking himself as well as everyone else when he picks fights with men who show an interest in Ann and even abusing the girl herself, Colby suggests a weekend driving trip to figure out what's causing such angst. In a lodge near Kentucky's Natural Bridge, talk of marriage soon disintegrates into violence, and before morning Ann, not surprisingly, is gone. Colby's bland personality and Ann's frustrating elusiveness do nothing to inspire sympathy or interest. Bingham's more characteristic satirical tone would have been welcome in this love story of an uninteresting pair.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-944072-65-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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