NIGHTS AT THE ALEXANDRA

A 15-year-old small-town lad in WW II Ireland expands his social horizons, and develops a romantic obsession—in this fine, characteristic Trevor story, one of the slightest (if purest) entries in the Harper Short Novel Series thus far. Harry, now 58, unmarried, and childless, recalls his adolescence during the war—when he was finishing up at a rectory grammar school, slated to start work soon at his father's timberyard. (His sister Annie—despite dreams of working as a Dublin shopgirl—has already been consigned forever to the timberyard office.) But Harry's life is changed forever when beautiful newcomer Mrs. Messinger, the young, thin English wife of a middle-aged German refugee, asks the youth to help her with some packages. Smitten, Harry is soon paying frequent visits to the Messingers' comfortable, European-style country house—where Frau Messinger reminisces about her English childhood and speaks of her unlikely marriage to 62-year-old Herr Messinger (a widower Whose sons are Nazi soldiers) with glowing affection. Despite coarse pressures from his bigoted parents, his sex. obsessed schoolmates, and other provincial sorts, Harry remains steadfast in his idealized devotion to the couple. So, when wealthy Herr M. decides to build a lavish, elegant cinema for the town (the romantic Alexandra), Harry's heart-and-soul are wrapped up in the project—especially once he realizes that the building of the moviehouse is Herr M.'s gift to a dying wife in her last months. And in time Harry will inherit the ultimately doomed Alexandra—escaping the world of the timberyard, but spending his life (not entirely plausibly) in the shadow of the Messingers' special love: "Fate has made me the ghost of an interlude; once in a while I say that in the town, trying to explain." More longish story than novella, without the strong political/historical resonance of some bolder Trevor tales—but exquisitely detailed, perfectly modulated in its bittersweet tone, and quietly, leanly, expertly told.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1987

ISBN: 0375504710

Page Count: 99

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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