The novel’s predictability will likely delight Steel’s die-hard fans, but it won’t win any new ones.

A PERFECT LIFE

A highly successful woman ponders romance with a younger man.

Steel (Until the End of Time, 2013, etc.) returns with her latest romance. Blaise McCarthy is our heroine. With huge green eyes, red hair, fine features and a fantastic figure, Blaise could easily pass for a woman in her 30s, even though she is practically pushing 50. With stark exposition, Steel outlines a life littered with romantic troubles. Her first husband, a cameraman, died while covering news from an unspecified war zone; her second husband, a venture capitalist 22 years her senior, gave her a beloved daughter, but they soon drifted apart from each other; her next serious relationship crashed and burned when she discovered that charming Andrew Weyland had no intention of ever divorcing his wife. Luckily, her daughter, Salima, thoughtfully understands that Blaise’s job as a renowned television journalist must take precedence over time together. Blinded by juvenile diabetes, Salima still lives with a personal caregiver on the grounds of the Caldwell School in Massachusetts. It’s a perfect life, if you disregard the loneliness of coming home to an empty apartment and limiting love to dinner dates with billionaire Saudi oil executives. It’s a perfect life until Salima’s caregiver dies, the Caldwell school is shut down under quarantine, and Salima is sent home with Simon, her gorgeous, new, very male caregiver. And then there’s the arrival of Susie Quentin, the beautiful, younger new anchor jockeying for Blaise’s job. Forced to take Salima and Simon into her home, Blaise must not only endure disruptions to her routine, but also face the fact that she is strongly attracted to Simon. But could he possibly want an older woman who may not be able to give him the family he wants?

The novel’s predictability will likely delight Steel’s die-hard fans, but it won’t win any new ones.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53094-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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