A hackneyed concept which gains little in this tepid treatment.

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KINDRED SPIRITS

Three women carry out the last wishes of their friend, discovering secrets, shedding inhibitions and inventing new martinis along the way.

To combat PTA pettiness, four friends, all residing in the idyllic lakeside town of Marshfield, Conn., are inspired by a musty cookbook, penned by a long-ago Marshfield clubwoman, to form the Ladies Society for the Conservation of Martinis. They bond over Cosmos, Blue Martinis and classic James Bond or Rat Pack concoctions while battling various crises in their lives. Now, though, the crises have the upper hand. Carol precipitously left her husband Jeff to resume her legal career in New York City, resulting in an ill-considered divorce. Now her ex-husband is insisting on selling their Marshfield house, and Carol’s daughter Amanda is not speaking to her. Mary Kay, who raised her orphaned niece Tiffany as her own, has been concealing her infertility from her live-in partner and soon-to-be fiancé, Drake. Beth is juggling her ailing elderly father’s health issues with no assistance, only criticism, from a controlling out-of-town sister. Worst of all, the society’s founder, Lynne, has run out of options in her battle against cancer. Employing a combination of Blue Martinis and morphine, she commits suicide, leaving a letter for her friends to find. That letter instructs them to look for the daughter that, as a teenager in Pennsylvania, Lynne had been forced to give up for adoption. The women track down Lynne’s mother and aunt, and thanks to Beth’s skills as a librarian, turn up a crucial clue that Lynne herself had withheld. As they zero in on their quarry, spreading unwelcome news all over Pennsylvania, the women have plenty of opportunity to indulge in all manner of martinis (recipes included). The lighthearted conventions of the midlife girl-power road trip (no driving while intoxicated depicted) often clash with the downright depressing subject matter, as the myriad ways in which parents, spouses and children can become estranged are picked apart. 

A hackneyed concept which gains little in this tepid treatment.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-525-95222-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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