Very entertaining, and McCauley digs a lot deeper than most authors of popular fiction.



An assortment of gay and straight characters uneasily assess their relationships with long-term partners, in McCauley’s tart-but-sweet fourth novel (The Man of the House, 1996, etc.).

Jane Cody makes lists in code, trying to hide from her devoted but dull second husband, Tom, the fact that she takes their weirdly adult six-year-old son, Gerald, to a shrink and has recently resumed seeing her own psychiatrist. But she’s so burned out from her job producing a Boston public TV show, shadowed by an ambitious, gorgeous young subordinate, that she forgets what the code is. Meanwhile, Desmond Sullivan grapples with ambivalent feelings about his longtime companion, Russell (who sells 1980s memorabilia in a shop on New York’s Lower East Side), and frets over his lack of progress on a biography of obscure pop singer Pauline Anderton. So Desmond takes a semester’s appointment at the college where Tom teaches, and his work inspires Jane to pitch a documentary series on “the true cultural influences: forgotten mediocrities.” She comes up with the idea to impress her philandering ex-husband, Dale, with whom she’s once again sleeping, but it also looks like a good way to pep up her career, and Desmond latches onto it as insurance in case his book contract gets canceled (his editor’s taking permanent maternity leave, and no one else is very interested). McCauley casts his customarily sharp eye on the romantic and professional contortions of Jane, Desmond, and the brilliantly etched supporting cast, most notably the fascinatingly ambiguous Rosemary, whose bestselling memoir, Dead Husband, raises intriguing questions about sincerity and truthfulness in writing. It takes a while to warm up to the intensely neurotic characters, but most readers will be propelled by McCauley’s storytelling and razor-sharp observations to a surprisingly warmhearted conclusion that undercuts its own sentimentality with the lurking suggestion that “something that’s true enough” may be as useful as the “essential truth” Desmond seeks in his biography. (P.S.: He finds it.)

Very entertaining, and McCauley digs a lot deeper than most authors of popular fiction.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-684-81054-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet