Auci focuses a panoramic lens on the Florio family's achievements while never losing sight of the smaller personal details...

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THE FLORIOS OF SICILY

An earthquake in the autumn of 1799 forces the relocation of the real-life Florio family from a devastated Calabria to Palermo, Sicily, where seismic changes of another kind continue to occur within the renowned family—and their new homeland—over the course of three generations.

Siblings Paolo and Ignazio Florio struggle to grow their burgeoning spice business in their new home, facing cultural and financial obstacles before reaching a level of acceptance from their Sicilian neighbors. In addition to competition from local merchants, their efforts to expand their trade are confounded by the era of rising Napoleonic power. Matters are further complicated by the difficult relationship between Paolo and his unhappy wife, Giuseppina, who is angered by her powerlessness in the marriage and her forced relocation to Sicily. After Paolo’s death, the business grows and prospers under Ignazio’s guidance while Ignazio himself lives an existence constrained by his lifelong unrequited passion for his widowed sister-in-law. Ignazio guides his beloved nephew, Vincenzo, into the increasingly more successful family business, and it is under Vincenzo’s steely-eyed and unrelenting leadership that the enterprise expands beyond the spice trade into a hydra-headed entity dealing in sulfur, textiles, spices, insurance, Marsala wine, medicinal herbs, shipping, and banking. Vincenzo’s own complicated personal life—involving a long-term liaison with the mother of his children—recalls that of his parents. The broad scope of Auci's narrative encompasses the personal and professional difficulties endured by both women and men within the family while dealing with issues of class as well (the Florios were often derided as traders and shunned by the insular Sicilian nobility). A condensed course in Sicilian history and Italian unification is interspersed between chapters and serves to place the Florios’ struggles in historical context. 

Auci focuses a panoramic lens on the Florio family's achievements while never losing sight of the smaller personal details of their (epic) lives.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293167-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperVia/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down.

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SUCH A FUN AGE

The relationship between a privileged white mom and her black babysitter is strained by race-related complications.

Blogger/role model/inspirational speaker Alix Chamberlain is none too happy about moving from Manhattan to Philadelphia for her husband Peter's job as a TV newscaster. With no friends or in-laws around to help out with her almost-3-year-old, Briar, and infant, Catherine, she’ll never get anywhere on the book she’s writing unless she hires a sitter. She strikes gold when she finds Emira Tucker. Twenty-five-year-old Emira’s family and friends expect her to get going on a career, but outside the fact that she’s about to get kicked off her parents’ health insurance, she’s happy with her part-time gigs—and Briar is her "favorite little human." Then one day a double-header of racist events topples the apple cart—Emira is stopped by a security guard who thinks she's kidnapped Briar, and when Peter's program shows a segment on the unusual ways teenagers ask their dates to the prom, he blurts out "Let's hope that last one asked her father first" about a black boy hoping to go with a white girl. Alix’s combination of awkwardness and obsession with regard to Emira spins out of control and then is complicated by the reappearance of someone from her past (coincidence alert), where lies yet another racist event. Reid’s debut sparkles with sharp observations and perfect details—food, décor, clothes, social media, etc.—and she’s a dialogue genius, effortlessly incorporating toddler-ese, witty boyfriend–speak, and African American Vernacular English. For about two-thirds of the book, her evenhandedness with her varied cast of characters is impressive, but there’s a point at which any possible empathy for Alix disappears. Not only is she shallow, entitled, unknowingly racist, and a bad mother, but she has not progressed one millimeter since high school, and even then she was worse than we thought. Maybe this was intentional, but it does make things—ha ha—very black and white.

Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-54190-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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