A surprisingly fresh take on an ancient tale delivered with lively style.

BEGINNINGS

BOOK ONE OF THE CHRONICLES OF THE LAWGIVER

A detailed, literary rendering of the story of Moses’ miraculous survival as a child and the political tumult in Egypt into which he was born.

Meisheid’s (Teach Yourself Indexing for RoboHELP Classic, 2000) fiction debut ambitiously retells a tale familiar to most, both from well-known historical sources, including biblical Scripture, and from its depiction in popular movie productions. This interpretation hews closely to the beginning of the famous narrative, focusing on the infant Moses’ narrow escape from an Egyptian edict that all newborn Hebrew males die, a savagely vindictive measure meant to stymie what was seen as their pernicious influence, especially regarding the spread of monotheism. Also, more than most accounts, this perspective provides a deep account of the political context, fleshing out the tumult that had plagued Egypt for over a half-century, pitting an increasingly disenfranchised priestly class against a pharaoh intent on consolidating his power at their expense. Filling in the historical blanks with impressive literary flair, the author enlivens a plot that could easily go stale from overuse. The book is based on available “speculative history,” especially the evidence marshaled by first-century scholar Titus Flavius Josephus, who contends, contrary to most versions of Moses’ life, that his status as a Hebrew was known from the very beginning by those who found him. In trying to explain how Moses survived despite the edict against his kind, Meisheid manages to construct a drama that is factually rigorous, artistically inventive and even thrilling.

A surprisingly fresh take on an ancient tale delivered with lively style.

Pub Date: April 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1931936002

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sherwood Monastery Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2014

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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