Another of Trevor's icy transparencies, here exposing the complex pathology of malignant attachments that result from the rogue drift of a somehow pitiable predator. He is handsome, appealing minor actor Francis Tyre—a 33-year-old thief, bigamist, blackmailer, and abandoner of aged parents who effortlessly and compulsively slips into new identities and situations. But Francis usually feels "let down," considering himself a victim—like Constance Kent, an abused Victorian murderess, subject of a TV play in which Francis once had a small role. His first wife victimized him, Francis feels: she was a 50-year-old dressmaker with a heart condition (and some money) who didn't die as fast as she promised to. He feels victimized also by gaunt, chain-smoking shopgirl Doris and their wretched blotchy-faced child Joy: because of the danger of a paternity suit, he has continued to see possessive Doris. And now there's a new betrayal for Francis to suffer from: 47-year-old widow Julia, whom he is about to marry in her beautiful home, makes a will in favor of her daughters—thanks to the urging of her mother, Mrs. Ansley, who feels a pinprick of unease about Francis and wonders "if she could tell from his walk what part he was playing." So, on the wedding night, Francis tells Julia about his grim, make-believe life-pattern (which began when he was seduced by his parents' boarder), collects her jewelry, and leaves her—implying that he forgives her for asking so much from him. And Julia, shocked out of love and faith, is then forced to enter the nightmare world of Doris—who, eaten with jealousy and ravaged by alcohol, will take a terrible journey to plead, to blame, and to murder; the once-religious Julia, finally "humiliated. . . with the truth," is compelled to take account of a world of savagery. True, the revelation of Francis' early homosexual experience seems a bit of a clinical contrivance. But that's the only even slightly false note here—as, again, with immaculate particulars, Trevor charts the metastasis of evil in a world of random tragedies and deliberate (if small) salvations.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0140106693

Page Count: 219

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1980

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...


Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.


Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet