Reid’s one-man campaign to resurrect the 18th- and 19th-century novel is a campaign well worth enlisting in. Don’t miss...



Reid departs from his popular Moosepath Chronicles (Daniel Plainway, 2000, etc.) with this first of a new series focusing on “the struggle between proprietors and settlers” in central Maine during the post–Revolutionary War years.

The former were Loyalists in possession of land granted to them by the English king; the latter, defiant homesteaders who called themselves “Liberty men” and raised a series of small wars against their wealthy oppressors. Into that volatile conflict steps the eponymous hero, a stalwart 17-year-old lad whose recently widowed mother has set him the task of finding his long-lost uncle (of whom Peter had never heard, and who is not his uncle, but the rival who had lost beautiful Rosemund Black to Peter’s father Silas Loon). Before a chastened Peter returns home, he’ll have shared an odyssey with traveling preacher and book peddler Zachariah Leach, enjoyed the hospitality of the ineffably Dickensian Clayden family (dead-ringers for the clan of David Copperfield’s Peggotty), helped rescue a runaway girl from the scoundrel bent on appropriating her, and, in a climactic march on the Wiscasset town jail, found himself buffeted between allegiances to both the Liberty men and their enemies and apprised of the truth of Parson Leach’s admonition that there is often truth on both sides of a quarrel. The story sputters a bit early on, and slows perilously as Reid concentrates numbingly on the Clayden brood’s heartiness and jollity. But it recovers nicely as urgent events grasp its characters’ attention (and ours). Peter is a splendid hero, and Zachariah Leach (a sage amalgam of Don Quixote and Fielding’s Parson Adams) whets the appetite for obviously forthcoming further adventures in a “chronicle” that thus far smoothly assimilates the influences of the aforementioned David Copperfield, Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, and miscellaneous dutifully acknowledged historical sources.

Reid’s one-man campaign to resurrect the 18th- and 19th-century novel is a campaign well worth enlisting in. Don’t miss Peter Loon.

Pub Date: July 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03052-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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