LOYALTIES

Turning once again to WW II, bestselling historical novelist Fleming (Over There, 1992, etc.) blends fact and fiction to explore the ramifications of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender through the lives of four people. His ``facts,'' however, are at the very least open to differing interpretations and may anger some readers. In Berlin, Berthe von Hoffman experiences a mystical religious conversion when she sees the horror of Kristallnacht and the bravery of a young German Lutheran pastor, leading her to become a secret agent for the German Resistance. This puts her at odds with her husband, Ernst, a dedicated U-boat commander whose unstinting commitment to his nation's cause will eventually lead him to lose his sense of honor. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, Ernst's U-boat mistakenly sinks the USS Spencer Lewis and then rescues from the sea Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Talbot. This young officer is outspoken with his doubts about the way FDR is maneuvering America into the war, putting him at odds with his wife, Annie, the daughter of a powerful Democratic pol. Both men end up as naval attachÇs in neutral Spain within months. There, Berthe and Jonathan begin a star-crossed affair, both working for some acceptable negotiated resolution to the fighting short of unconditional surrender. Ernst goes back to sea and then to a desk job high in the German Command, and Annie becomes a top-notch political reporter and eventually a war correspondent. Through a series of unlikely coincidences, their four paths cross again and again throughout the war, culminating in an improbable rescue mission during the fall of Berlin. Fleming makes a good case for the wrongheadedness of the Allies' policy of no compromise and their denial of the existence of a resistance movement. But he hurts his credibility with unstinting antagonism toward FDR and virtually every New Deal figure who appears in these pages. Melodramatic as always, but more controversial than usual. ($30,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-017709-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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