BLUES FOR HANNAH

The author of the quirky California Book of the Dead (1997) offers a more somber look at those seeking salvation, whether in the arms of a lover or on the spiritual plane. Skipping back and forth in time, the story begins in contemporary San Francisco when Jeremiah Mason receives an early morning call notifying him of the car crash death of Hannah, a former lover. He journeys to Nebraska to make funeral arrangements, and while doing so inescapably thinks back on their stormy relationship, which spanned decades and produced a son. It began when a young Jeremiah was struggling to make a reputation as a painter and an equally young Hannah was attempting to make her way as a blues singer. Jeremiah and Hannah became lovers, then drifted apart. Jeremiah later married LeeAnne, a psychologist, but eventually left her to reunite with Hannah. Out of that reunion came Sammy, a son that Jeremiah and LeeAnne end up raising when Hannah again departs. In between are all the joys and heartaches of domestic life Jeremiah’s struggles with an artistic career, Hannah’s decision to give up music for spiritual fulfillment in Berkeley, LeeAnne’s changing career. Jeremiah’s recollections of the pair’s struggles to gain self-knowledge and atonement are poignant, made all the more so by the knowledge of Hannah’s death. Her vibrant influence on those who loved her becomes clear in her absence. Sammy, now eight years old and as gifted musically as his mother was, accompanies his father to Nebraska. While on the road, the two try to come to terms with her life and death, but she remains an elusive figure to them (and to the reader), an archetypal free-spirit who eludes definition. Farrington again serves up a distinctive reflection of the times while managing to create unself-conscious, engaging characters. A fine second novel that serves as a quiet meditation on the reaches of love.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-609-60281-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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HOMEPORT

To her usual mix of love, mystery, and passion, Roberts (Sanctuary, 1997, etc.)—author of 115 romancers in some 17 years—adds Renaissance art and a decidedly Medici-like family: the Joneses of Maine. Dr. Miranda Jones, nearly six feet with flaming red hair and a glacial reserve, is an archeometrist who specializes in the analyzing and dating of Renaissance bronze sculpture. Miranda hopes to secure a world-class reputation for herself by authenticating a 15th-century statue of the Dark Lady, one of the mistresses of Lorenzo the Magnificent, as the undiscovered work of a young Michelangelo. Miranda's mother, Dr. Elizabeth Standford-Jones, the emotionally remote director of the Standjo art lab in Florence, has summoned her daughter from the family's Victorian cliffside home in Jones Point, Maine, to test the statue. Meanwhile, Miranda's father, equally remote, is an archaeologist who spends more time at his digs than at home. In fact, no one in the Jones family has made a successful run at marriage, a failure that Miranda and her alcoholic brother Andrew call the Jones curse. As for the statue, when it's discovered to be a fake, Miranda sets out to prove that someone stole the original. In this she's helped by gorgeous art thief Ryan Boldari (half-Italian, half-Irish), who's come to Jones Point to steal yet another bronze, which also turns out to be a forgery. Ryan's plan had been to use Miranda as a pawn, but now, naturally, he finds himself falling hard for her. While the two search for bronzes, a standard-issue romance-novel psychotic is stalking them. Most readers will twig to the killer's identity: Here, as always, Roberts's sexual tension is more compelling than her suspense. Perhaps it's time to take a sabbatical from the pink sweatshop and turn her considerable wit and narrative skills to a more original piece of work.

Pub Date: March 23, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-14387-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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