A sometimes-rambling and melodramatic tale, but one that remains compelling.

A Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear?

Harrington’s debut novel revolves around the trials and tribulations of a girl abandoned by her birth parents and unloved by her adoptive mother—but who’s determined to make something of herself.

In 1952, sometime after Georgina Jackson’s second birthday, her parents separate. Her mother takes custody of Georgina’s brother, Ian, while Georgina stays with her father. The child would never see her mother or brother again, and, strangely, they aren’t even mentioned throughout her remaining saga. When she’s about 3, her father dresses her up and brings her to the Frazers, who are to be her foster parents while he goes off to find better job opportunities. After several months, they take Georgina’s father to court to terminate his parental rights, officially adopting the child. She gets bullied in school and struggles academically, but she finds her voice through music, excelling to the point where she’s awarded a scholarship to a music college. But when her adoptive father becomes ill, she must quit school and find a job. This ultimately ends her involvement in music, and eventually, she winds up working in some ill-defined aspect of the banking industry. Harrington shows how Georgina’s deep-seated feelings of self-doubt remain with her through adulthood, which leads to a series of poor marriage choices, resulting in the painful irony of history repeating itself when Georgina’s forced to relinquish two of her own children to foster care. The twists and turns of Harrington’s plot have all the elements of a soap opera, and it has a Dickensian element that will compel readers to continue forward. The author adopts a unique narrative position in this sweeping third-person tale, as she’s both a storyteller and a commentator on the action. For example, regarding Georgina’s childhood memory of sitting under a kitchen table, hearing the thumping of a rolling pin, she writes: “We can only assume it’s her mother, but poppet learned at an early age not to take anything for granted, so it could have been anyone.”

A sometimes-rambling and melodramatic tale, but one that remains compelling.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0226-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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