An initially engaging tale of an attorney behaving badly that ultimately instructs more than it entertains.

Divorce Lawyer: A Satyr's Tale

In Silverman’s (What Money Can Buy, 2011) novel, a lawyer faces disbarment after a woman files a sexual grievance against him.

Successful New York attorney Peter Morrissey practices divorce law. His clients are always women seeking lucrative settlements from their soon-to-be exes. As a self-confessed “satyr” (“the male counterpart of a nymphomaniac”), Morrissey routinely propositions his clients, even though the New York Bar Association’s professional standards prohibit such sexual relations, except where a relationship existed prior to the client’s retaining the attorney’s services. A woman named Molly Dixon alleges that Morrissey had sexual intercourse with her while she was his client (and that he billed her for the night). Now the lawyer must answer the charge in court and file a list of his female clients from the past five years, so he hires hard-driving criminal defense attorney William Duffy to represent him. But even as Morrissey faces professional censure and the loss of his livelihood, he still wants to bed his clients, as he finds all women attractive. Still, he hopes for leniency for his hypersexual appetites. The novel starts well with an amusing mix of dark comedy and chew-the-scenery dialogue, as when Duffy differentiates between women Morrissey “plowed” and the few he didn’t. Thankfully, Morrissey isn’t portrayed as a one-dimensional sleazebag; he’s likable despite his peccadilloes and admits that womanizing cost him his marriage. He even donates considerable time and money to Safe Horizon, an organization for victims of domestic violence. Every few pages, meanwhile, the hard-drinking Duffy comes up with another zinger; for example, when he snaps a photo of Morrissey on his cell phone, he says that he plans to hang it in the bathroom: “Every time I’m on the crapper, I’ll think of you.” The author shows considerable expertise in legal strategies and remedies; unfortunately, after the first few chapters, the book seems to be less a novel than a lengthy, point-by-point legal analysis. Legal professionals may be intrigued by this detailed accounting, but it may lack emotional resonance for others.

An initially engaging tale of an attorney behaving badly that ultimately instructs more than it entertains.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481248938

Page Count: 246

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2013

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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