A stylish reiteration of a sad, oft-told tale.

ANOTHER SIDE OF PARADISE

Gossip columnist Sheilah Graham’s side of her less-than-paradisiacal love affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald during the last three years of his life.

Koslow’s portrayal begins with Sheilah’s refusing to accept the fact that Scott has just died. Flashbacks form the rest of the novel, narrated by Sheilah. Born to a poor Jewish family in London, Sheilah (nee Lily Shiel) is consigned to an orphanage by a mother unable to care for her, but she eventually attains enough respectability to attract upper-class suitors. She marries the much older John Graham Gillam, who is more mentor than husband—they will divorce amicably—and with his blessing achieves a measure of acclaim on the London stage before journeying to America to pursue a career in journalism. Her penchant for fluff pieces lends itself perfectly to gossip, and soon Sheilah’s in Hollywood, challenging Louella Parsons and Hedda Hoper. The story of Sheilah and Scott’s instant chemistry and their on-again, off-again, but always intense liaison is told with taste and sympathy for these deeply flawed characters: Scott, whose best intentions are always derailed by his frequent tumbles off the wagon, and Sheilah, who grows increasingly weary of concealing her déclassé origins, real name, and Jewishness. She’s not entirely reassured when Scott points out that most of Hollywood’s movie moguls are Jewish and that the majority of movie stars have what he refers to as a “nom de guerre.” As Scott tries to improve on Sheilah’s education with a Western canon reading list, she acts as his personal manager, remediating the chaotic aftermath of his drinking bouts. Scott's bad luck as a screenwriter is entertainingly depicted as he's fired from such iconic films as Gone with the Wind (despite Sheilah’s help with visualizing the character of Scarlett) and The Women. Koslow’s writing is vibrant and colorful, and the denizens of Scott’s world are ably summed up in a few pithy swipes: “In 1935, Dorothy [Parker] was a wicked, eyelash-batting pixie willing to catapult into any conversation.”

A stylish reiteration of a sad, oft-told tale.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-269676-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more