What the book lacks is objectivity. Not only does the author note that she never asked questions she felt would be unwelcome, she is awestruck to the point of obsequiousness. It is to the book’s and the readers’ detriment that her hero worship of her often grumpy subject is so glaring.
Think David Lodge meets Maggie Shipstead as Makkai’s suspenseful scene building and comic timing make “The Hundred-Year House” a captivating read.
The mystery is why Seiffert doesn’t make more of this contemporary aspect of her novel. Jozef is given his own story, one that perhaps too neatly echoes Graham’s (he is also suffering from marital woes), but it is frustratingly thin. It is as though Seiffert can’t quite find enough room for that strand of her narrative.
My trouble with this book was not its failure to live up to genre conventions — any good story can get away with breaking the rules. But I was disappointed that the characters remained thin, even through plot twists and revelations that should have granted them life beyond the page.
“The Great Glass Sea” is not an alternative history, then, but a fantastical vision inspired by bits and pieces of Russian language, history and culture. It is beautifully baffled by the mysterious Russian soul.
Moyes has mastered the art of likable, not terribly memorable, but far from simple-minded storytelling.
...Ms. Gould does a credible job of evoking her two self-absorbed heroines’ daily existence, hoping that noncommittal boyfriends might turn into more perfect mates, hoping that terrible temp jobs are really temporary pit stops on the way to some sort of real vocation.
In the end, the fictional publisher Daniel Chard got it right: “Content is king,” and on that score, both J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith triumph.
...it doesn’t help us understand what actually happened in the past decade and how we might change policy for the better. The issues Eggers approaches may be serious, but their treatment is not.
The book’s energy, its wide reach and rich detail make it a confident example of the “unputdownable” novel.
Fortunately, Ms Morris is not overwhelmed by the melodrama of Luce’s life. She had unparalleled access to her subject before Luce’s death in 1987 and to her papers (all 460,000 of them) in the Library of Congress. The result is a portrait of a woman gifted with intelligence and drive...
The area of Midtown Manhattan around Grand Central Terminal, with its host of landmark buildings, serves as the backdrop...The tour of Midtown, both above and below ground, is alone worth the price of admission.
...take readers into the world of Soviet intelligentsia and shadowy Cold War politics...overall, a triumphant reminder that truth is sometimes gloriously stranger than fiction.
Birmingham makes palpable the courage and commitment of the rebels who championed Joyce, but he grants the censors their points of view as well in this absorbing chronicle of a tumultuous time. Superb cultural history, pulling together many strands of literary, judicial and societal developments into a smoothly woven narrative fabric.
It’s this kind of passing detail, blending the comic and the tragic, briefly redirecting the reader’s attention toward the million different wars going on all at once, that gives “Midnight in Europe” its terrific texture of reality.
...the overwhelming emotions here are loss and regret, as Tooly realizes how she was alienated from her own best instincts by a charismatic sociopath. Brilliantly structured, beautifully written and profoundly sad.
Good book? Hell, yes. Good Stephen King book? Absolutely. When judging it purely as a thriller, that will depend on taste. The truth is that King transcends genre...
The story of Mayor and Maribel is interrupted by soliloquies from Ms. Henríquez’s chorus of immigrants...Too often, however, they feel like unnecessary distractions from the story of the Rivera and Toro families, which by themselves encapsulate both the promises and perils of the American dream.
Face it: Wouldn’t you rather strike out on the road with John Waters than Jack Kerouac? If the answer is yes, then this book is for you, even if Waters...the ever-flamboyant auteur-(Pink Flamingos, Hairspray et al) turned-writer, takes his sweet time getting going.
Over the course of her year at the Agency, Joanna—who is now a poet, journalist, critic, and prize-winning novelist—“finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s.”...You’ll have to read her beautifully crafted memoir...