Paetro's third (following Babydreams, 1989, and Manshare, 1986) is a larkish tidbit that goes nicely with pi§a coladas and beach umbrellas—a trendy fantasy for the sorts of girls who invariably give their hearts to altar-shy guys. Harriet Braintree is a New York City literary agent with a cute apartment in the Village, lots of fun friends, and Dean—a handsome Wall Street investment broker who's been the light of her life for two years. Clearly, she's got marriage on her mind, but he's a tangle of modern male confusions, including the requisite Oedipal complex, dyslexia, career inadequacies (since handling his rich dad's portfolio is the only reason he's kept on at his brokerage house), and some big doubts about Harrie. Things only get worse between them when Harrie's dear old neighbor, Mr. Tuckman, dies, leaving her a pink elephant Long Island mansion called Blackfern and a couple million to restore it with. The pressure of handling her dough drives Dean over the edge, sending him into svelte Laura Taft's bed, though Harrie retaliates by shacking up with her architect, Roger Mayhew. Alas, Roger turns out to be just as incapable of commitment as Dean, but in the time it takes Harrie to find it out, Dean turns over a new leaf. And before you can say ``I do,'' Dean's banging on Harrie's door with 200 roses and a connubial gleam in his eyes. It's all utterly predictable, but neatly poised between flippancy and sentiment: a smooth, wish-fulfilling ride for thirtysomething-ish females.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-69028-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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

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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.


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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