Occasional sharp insights, but the book is not as strong as some of Martin’s previous efforts.

THE CONFESSIONS OF EDWARD DAY

Actors have difficulty distinguishing performance from life in Martin’s latest (Trespass, 2007, etc.).

The title character, whose great secret is his unjustified sense of responsibility for his mother’s suicide, begins his acting career in New York in 1974. During a weekend at the beach, Edward experiences two life-changing events: He seduces beautiful actress Madeleine Delavergne, and he is saved from drowning by aspiring actor Guy Margate. Not sure who is more bound to whom, Guy and Edward, who look somewhat alike, become lifelong competitors both as actors and as Madeleine’s lovers. At first Guy gets the roles and good reviews, while Edward wins Madeleine. Then during a season away at a summer theater, Edward transforms himself as an actor and begins to find genuine success. But Guy and a pregnant Madeleine have married, supposedly for propriety’s sake. Although Madeleine’s pregnancy turns out to be ectopic, and although Edward and Madeleine fall into each other’s arms almost as soon they run into each other, her marriage with Guy continues. Skip ahead six years. Guy has stopped acting, zealously devoting himself to Madeleine and her burgeoning career. She and Edward, who is also doing well, find themselves cast as lovers in Uncle Vanya. Offstage they are as attracted as ever, while Edward and Guy are mutually hostile. Then tragedy strikes. Much is made of the 1970s setting, but these characters seem to live in an earlier, more uptight decade. The arch narrative tone might be forgiven as purposely actor-ish if the plot didn’t feel so forced.

Occasional sharp insights, but the book is not as strong as some of Martin’s previous efforts.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-52584-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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