A fresh, affecting take on a tale as old as time.

HERE IS THE BEEHIVE

A married woman mourns the loss of her lover.

Crossan, Ireland’s fifth children's laureate, explores the unexpected end of an extramarital affair in her first adult novel. Estate lawyer Ana deals with death daily but still finds herself wholly unprepared when she learns Connor—her client and lover of three years—has died suddenly: “We plan for death, / make sensible decisions while gorging on life. / But no one intends to die.” Ana learns of Connor’s passing from his widow, Rebecca, who knows nothing about their relationship. Written in verse, the novel weaves past and present together as Ana tries not to succumb to grief while looking back over the good (and bad) of their relationship. Married with two children herself, Ana finds herself ensconced in a unique kind of grief; she must mourn in private because their relationship was a secret and mourning properly could cost her everything. While coping with Connor’s death, Ana becomes increasingly erratic: She ignores her family, falls behind at work, and tries to befriend Rebecca. As the two women become closer, Ana begins to reevaluate what Connor has told her about his wife and his life. It's only after he’s gone that she begins to see him and their relationship for what it truly was. Crossan’s writing helps underscore the novel’s themes of memory, time, and the manifestation of grief. The fragmented style mirrors Ana’s scattered thoughts and memories, and the white space on the page feels like a physical embodiment of their affair—which took place in the found stretches of their lives. At one point, Ana thinks: “We were never forever. / Always in a place of / passing. / Everything that mattered happened in locked rooms. / Nothing came out of them.” As she exits that locked room for good, Ana must step fully into her messy life—whatever the outcome.

A fresh, affecting take on a tale as old as time.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42858-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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An exhilarating ride through Americana.

THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY

Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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