The narrator may be unreliable, but the stories she tells, as well as her own, are infinitely appealing.

Vivienne's Blog

Leaton’s debut psychological thriller takes place in the fractured mind of Vivienne Coroth, who, believing herself a descendant of Faeries, may be plotting revenge against her ex-lover and his new wife.

Thanks to a court order, Vivienne can’t get anywhere near her ex, Callum, or his wife, Mary. So Vivienne starts writing a blog for Callum, hiding a password for website access in the pages of a letter she sends him. As far as Vivienne knows, Callum won’t find the password, but he’ll wish he had: Vivienne is regularly watching Mary and the couple’s twin toddler sons at the mall. She snatches one of the boys, Samuel, and spends days telling him about her Faerie family, beginning in the late 18th century—a history she knows because her ancestors’ memories have been passed on to her. But Vivienne has plans for Samuel, involving a powerful spell that she’ll soon cast. Leaton’s novel has great fun toying with perspective; the entire narrative is the blog, as Vivienne posts letters to and from Callum, as well as correspondence from Callum’s lawyers, who strongly suggest she stop writing her ex. Vivienne firmly believes that she’s a Faerie (she looks human but makes it clear she isn’t one), but Leaton avoids confirming the possibility as fact. This results in numerous bizarre, often humorous sequences in which Vivienne, for instance, converses with Samuel who, at a mere 18 months, speaks in adult-sized sentences: “The stuff about the uncles was hardly a lullaby, was it? Oh, sanitise it for me if you must. Just give me the facts about your eponymous ancestress.” There are likewise hilarious reminders of his age (he still plays with blocks), which tend to offset the seriousness of a child having been kidnapped. Vivienne recounts to Samuel a great deal of her background (mostly Faerie but some of her human family, too) and a few of her dreams; these sufficiently mold the woman’s mindset, but they’re also a bit excessive, coming across as a series of only moderately relevant short stories, each with its own title and separate chapter. Leaton steers clear of a definite resolution, leaving readers to question whether the protagonist is insane or mystical. The story leans in one direction near the end before a crackerjack finish.

The narrator may be unreliable, but the stories she tells, as well as her own, are infinitely appealing.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496012401

Page Count: 384

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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

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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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