A stirring reminder of the horrors of war and a distinctive take on the timelessness of love.

WE'VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME

Two teenage girls from different centuries become strangely connected through personal tragedy and the events of World War I in this debut novel.

Sam Foster is a British teenager with a long-lived set of imaginary friends. At the age of 2, Sam appeared on top of a tall stool, waving at the lightning outside the window. Spooked that these people her child saw might really be the undead, Sam’s mother ordered her husband to move the family to a new house, one in which no one had yet died. At 15, Sam still sees people and visits places that others do not. Her airline pilot father is involved in a devastating car crash, and Sam now sits at his hospital bedside while wrestling with the meaning of the visions she experiences. A second narrative, set during World War I, focuses on Jessica Brown, 15, whose father has been killed in the war. After her younger brother dies of starvation, her penniless mother sends Jessica to work as a maid in London. There, in the opulent home of Maj. Osborne, Jessica works only for room and board, and this unpaid position becomes so demanding, it leaves her hands bleeding. The major’s two oldest sons have died in the war, but the youngest one, Tom, is home on leave. Jessica and Tom are drawn to each other, and it seems as if this unlikely coupling may be a permanent one. Just as Tom prepares to head back to France, facing slim chances of survival, Sam, in the present day, engineers a desperate, supernatural attempt to save her father’s life. Gandar’s work certainly gets off to an intriguing, though slightly confusing, start. Some of Sam’s early visions and travels can be a bit mystifying. Jessica’s wartime story, though, is a convincing, heartbreaking tale that becomes almost compulsively readable after she moves to London. Details about England’s food shortages, the maid’s household responsibilities, and the whims of the wealthy while the poor suffer add potency to an already engrossing account. As Sam’s story collides with the past, the novel slowly becomes whole, leading to an eloquent and moving ending.

A stirring reminder of the horrors of war and a distinctive take on the timelessness of love.

Pub Date: March 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78589-040-6

Page Count: 217

Publisher: Matador

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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A LITTLE LIFE

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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