TRANSGRESSIONS

A London Czech translator threatened by a rapist goes after her tormentor with a vengeance—in this straight-suspense holiday from Dunant’s Hannah Wolfe detective stories (Under My Skin, 1995, etc.). The false notes in Elizabeth Skvorecky’s life begin so quietly that she assumes she’s imagining things—the Van Morrison CD that’s disappeared from her collection, the replacement CD that vanishes from her disc player. Surely there’s no reason for her departed lover Tom, a classical music buff, to have helped himself to music he despised. And Tom himself, though not above a supercilious sneer when Lizzie calls to ask him to return his housekey, ends up sending back the key, and a Van Morrison disk to boot. But then somebody repeatedly breaks into her house, marking his place with uncanny signatures’stacking up all her CDs in a neat pile, setting the kitchen table for two, spattering the manuscript she’s been translating with ketchup—and leaving Lizzie almost as confused as frightened. What’s going on here? The locksmith she calls to beef up her security respectfully suggests she may be harboring a poltergeist; the local vicar she consults talks about outbursts of suppressed emotion. Then, shortly after Lizzie’s responded to her importunate friends by pulling herself away from the translating job long enough to restart her sex life, she confronts her nemesis, a hammer-wielding rapist, face to face. So far everything has been routine, if breathlessly so; but with Lizzie’s obligatory scene with the intruder, which she transforms from rape to edgy seduction, Dunant strikes out into new territory, as Lizzie declines to call the police on the departed attacker, determining to hunt him down herself, and baiting a trap for him with salaciously, subversively altered passages from her translation, and with the promise of settling scores with her for good. An unsettling, often chilling, portrait of a compulsive predator and the woman who refuses to be his prey.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-06-039248-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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