A small gem of a novel.

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KEEPING TIME

A perfectly charming debut in which a septuagenarian from Liverpool travels to Long Island in search of her long-lost fiancé.

Daisy Phillips is feeling the pressure to move from her quaint English home to a state-of-the-art retirement community. She loves her house, but since her husband’s death eldest son Dennis has been taking care of things, and now that he’s moving hours from Liverpool, he wants her to follow (and so does his young wife, who wants the cash from the sale of Daisy’s house). She engages in a few harrowing (though successful) attempts at home repair, which steel her resolve to stay put; furthermore Daisy decides to travel again. Rooting through some boxes she finds a relic from her past—a watch given (in lieu of a ring) to her by Michael Baker, an American soldier she fell in love with during World War II. He was to return for her, but his letters stopped abruptly, and then life went on. Daisy decides to travel to America and locate Michael, or at least his descendants, to return the watch (made additionally special as it is inscribed by Arthur Rubinstein, Michael’s piano teacher). She contacts American cousins she’s never met, and soon she is in Long Island, immersed in their family intrigues. Staying with her second cousin Elisabeth and her brood of sons, Daisy gets a firsthand glimpse at the impossibly overscheduled lives of affluent Americans. Elisabeth barely has a moment to breathe while worrying about teenage son Michael, and her husband Richard, who she fears is Dart Man, a menace who has been shooting darts into the behinds of Manhattan’s women. Meanwhile, young Michael is helping Daisy search for her missing G.I., and with the help of 92-year-old Hulda Kheist (a rascal in a novel of wonderfully drawn characters), who still lives in the building Michael wrote from in 1945, they make it to New Hampshire, where Michael was last seen. Unabashedly tender, the cinematic quality of the prose—composed mostly of short, fragmented sentences—prevents the story from becoming sentimental.

A small gem of a novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-46440-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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