BOXEN

THE IMAGINARY WORLD OF THE YOUNG C.S. LEWIS

Between the ages of seven and 29, C.S. Lewis produced short sketches of an imaginary world named "Boxen"—a cosmos bounded by his older brother Warner's imaginary India on the east and by young Jack's wholly invented Animal-Land on the west. Walter Hooper, the editor of this volume and Lewis' former secretary, literally snatched these pages from a small fire to which the elderly "Warnie" was feeding them in 1964. Although few authors would care to have their childhood fantasies published, these sketches do possess a distinct, daft charm. Warnie and Jack Lewis lost their mother to cancer in 1908, and were reared chiefly by their father, a public prosecutor steeped in the angry politics of Northern Ireland. Precocious Jack's Boxen is similarly a hotbed of insurgency: the early tales deal with "Manx against Manx," "The Relief of Murry," and the invasions of Horse-Land and Pig-Land. Later stories move beyond aggression into ethics. In "The Silor," a novel written when Jack was 14 and at boarding school, Mr. Cottle ("a strong and wiry young Cat") arrives on board H.M.S. Greyhound charged with the secret mission of reforming its crew's lazy ways, but is himself corrupted by a genial paymaster, James Bar (a bear). Lewis leaves them as "good friends if not good officers. . .they manage to hit a golden mean between Bar's desparate [sic] exploits and Cottle's absurd idealism." The charm here lies in the innocence and, in fact, the averageness of the stiff, childish drawings and the predictable roster of kings and heads of state (King Bunny was Jack; the Rajah or "Jah" was Warnie). Flashes of the great fantasist-to-be appear only in the increasingly sure-footed handling of humor and characterization; spelling, though, remains agreeably erratic throughout. Although more an indirect portrait of an Edwardian childhood than a major collection of new stories, Boxen—as Lewis' first and formative imaginary kingdom—should be of interest to Narnia enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 1985

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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