A dense and surprising tale from an acclaimed Lithuanian author.

BEES ON THE SNOW

Lithuanian writer Šaltenis’ 1990 novel about a small-town pastor’s death is available in English for the first time.

On a frigid Christmas night in Lithuania at some point in the distant past, the pastor Kristijonas goes missing. When he’s located the next day, he’s lying among the animals in his own manger, nearly frozen to death; some people say that he was trying to preach the Gospel to the livestock. When the man dies a few days later, the circumstances surrounding his demise remain unclear. As a funeral is prepared, the life of Kristijonas is revealed through his past interactions with the colorful villagers who lived around him, including Karvelis, the former herdsman and current church bell ringer, who loved the pastor but fears encountering him as a ghost, as “he had, after all, sinned heavily against the late Kristijonas”—and, it’s revealed, others as well. Another villager is Lotė the Betrothed, who never married, and her son, Jonelis, whom Kristijonas once said had the makings of a bishop. There’s also Fingerless Limba, the local schoolteacher and undertaker, whose missing appendages are the cause (and result) of controversy. Through these and other characters, a loving, self-effacing portrait of rural Lithuania emerges. Šaltenis’ prose, as translated by Novickas, is formal but riotous in tone: “So then, when Mr. Kristijonas was still but a crowing baby, the plague arrived, neither sought nor summoned, and went reeling through the villages without missing a single cottage, unbending, proud, all buttoned up like a minor court official.” As the author wrote the work toward the end of the Soviet period in Lithuania, the book can be read as a reaction to that occupation—especially as, in the novel, the country faces a similar threat from Germans. For readers without a sense of Lithuanian history, however, it reads more like an off-kilter pastiche of preindustrial life. It’s a short book, and it may take the reader some time to acclimate to its peculiar rhythms, but the wide assortment of intersecting lives and disputed histories makes for an amusing puzzle.

A dense and surprising tale from an acclaimed Lithuanian author.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9966304-5-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Pica Pica Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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