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The Broken Heart Diet

A memorable, gratifying glimpse into the life of a romantic restaurateur.

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With paranormal elements, Formaro’s (co-author Alfonso, the Christmas Pumpkin, 2009) debut romance is told from the unusual point of view of the spurned male.

Dante Palermo is on top of the world. Vacationing in Las Vegas, he’s about to propose to his girlfriend, Abby, in the town where they met. When they return to San Francisco, he’ll sign the papers to open his first restaurant in North Beach. But things don’t go as planned. First, Abby breaks up with him before he can pop the question. Then, after returning brokenhearted to San Francisco, he learns that his prospective business partner has fled the country ahead of investigations by the FBI. With the help of friends Bird, Charly, business partner John Sierra and whiskey, Dante stays afloat—just barely. His new restaurant, Pane Rubato, hovers on the brink of success, seemingly sabotaged by John’s now-widow and his own ennui. For every step forward, Dante takes two back. His true savior turns out to be his beloved grandmother Nonna Isabella. She may have died years ago, but her ghost still pays him late night visits when his despair overwhelms him. Her counsel, cooking and assurances that he can now cure broken hearts not only bring him success but help him discover his true love. Dante’s vulnerability will make readers ache for him, although there are instances when his boneheaded behavior incites a different response. The unique point of view elevates this novel; many readers of romance will be accustomed to cursing the male character, not sympathizing with him. However, the novel is far more than a romance, as it chronicles Dante’s business struggles and the meteoric rise that feels empty to him. Formaro emphasizes the value of family and true friendship (as well as the devotion of a good dog) in healing a broken heart. The only times the novel falters are in its moments of slapstick; the climactic scene in Rome also suffers from the ridiculous scheming of Dante and his relatives to arrange a meeting with what could be true love.

A memorable, gratifying glimpse into the life of a romantic restaurateur.

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0984259311

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Tramonto Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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