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I REMEMBER CARAMOOR

A MEMOIR

A slim, ornate, leisurely memoir of the author’s time at Caramoor.

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Meyers (My Mad Russian, 2015, etc.) tells of his time as a servant at a historic mansion in this memoir.

In 1970, 17-year-old Meyers began working as an underbutler at the Caramoor estate near Katonah, New York. Built by the theremin soloist Lucie Bigelow Rosen and her lawyer/banker husband, Walter Tower Rosen, the mansion was a hodgepodge of European high culture populated by a colorful assortment of butlers, maids, gardeners, valets, and their families. The Rosens were deceased by this point; Caramoor was the seat of their Foundation for the Arts and the home of its executive director, Michael Sweeley. Meyers spent his days dusting artifacts and bringing Sweeley his tea, setting it “on the bureau beside his big oaken 16th-century bed, opposite the mantelpiece bearing bronze John Harvard bookends and an inscribed photograph of Gina Bachauer.” In his free time, Meyers had access to the estate’s 100 acres of wooded paths, its extensive library, and some of its art, which he was allowed to hang in the cottage he inhabited on the grounds. The annual Caramoor Summer Music Festival brought musicians, whom Meyers had to discipline when they tried to misuse antique furniture. Meyers was able to meet celebrated artists and performers like Julius Rudel, Maureen Forrester, Andrea Velis, and New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. When the house opened as a museum, Meyers gave tours to visitors, pointing out unique features and collections. Meyers’ prose, ornate and slightly mannered, befits the memoir’s formal and anachronistic setting: “The Rosens’ taste was very good, but didn’t seem to extend past about 1800. I expect that both consciously rebelled against the Victoriana they were raised amidst, but from there their tastes went backwards, not forwards.” This is a slim volume, which works in its favor. Neither a strong narrative nor strong emotions ever arise over the course of the author’s reminiscences. Instead, the account mirrors a leisurely walk through Caramoor’s house and property, with Meyers pausing to acknowledge a particular room or object, a ritual associated with a certain hour of the day, or a person and some brief anecdote associated with him or her. What the book lacks in narrative momentum, it makes up for in the way it successfully summons not just a place, but the energy of that place. This is a work dedicated to an earlier era, during which time the author was employed at an estate dedicated to an even earlier era. It isn’t nostalgia that characterizes Meyers’ words so much as appreciation for a tiny enclave dedicated to finery away from the larger conflicts and trends of the modern world. To read this book is to escape briefly into a mindset where high tea and fine art are all one needs to forget one’s problems. Meyers’ brief time at Caramoor and the shortness of this work are a testament to the unfortunate fleetingness of such sentiment.

A slim, ornate, leisurely memoir of the author’s time at Caramoor.

Pub Date: June 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63492-416-0

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Booklocker

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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