Elegant portrait of an artist that grants Kahlo a vulnerability and complexity often missing from the kitschy images of her...

FRIDA’S BED

The final days of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, as imagined by the Croatian-born author (They Would Never Hurt a Fly, 2004, etc.).

Confined to her bed and suffering from pneumonia, among other ailments, Frida has ample time to contemplate her role in the world just as she mentally readies herself to leave it. The frail 47-year-old, who is also recovering from the amputation of her right leg, ruminates on her remarkable experiences as both an artist and as the beautiful, exotic wife to famous muralist Diego Rivera (here called simply “the Maestro”). It is her lifetime of physical suffering, though, that in this book defines her most. A childhood bout of polio withers her leg; a gruesome streetcar accident nearly kills her as a teen; and chronic back pain makes even sitting still and painting a defiant act of self-control and will. Also explored are the well-known, gossipy events of her biography, including her husband’s chronic womanizing. He betrays her with her healthy younger sister Kity, an act that cuts especially deep, even as Frida outwardly forgives them both. An affair with exiled Leon Trotsky gives her insight in what it feels like to be the other woman for a change, and it suggests that Frida’s longtime flirtation with communism has less to do with ideology than it does with getting closer to her husband. But it is pain and a desire to rise above her physical body that she returns to again and again, even as she realizes that her finest work would not have been possible without it. Seemingly helpless at the end, she is left to ultimately decide how much of a role to have in her own demise. This often-downbeat work includes ample stream-of-consciousness musings and brief examinations of Kahlo’s art, and how it was influenced by her life.

Elegant portrait of an artist that grants Kahlo a vulnerability and complexity often missing from the kitschy images of her that abound today.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-14-311415-4

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more