A moody lament for a vanished past, present, and future that grates subtly on the nerves and lingers uncomfortably in the...

THE LIGHT OF DAY

An ex-policeman turned private detective finds himself unable to forget a former client who murdered her unfaithful husband.

This intricate and absorbing seventh novel from the Booker-winning British author (Last Orders, 1996, etc.) is constructed “like one of those sequences of film played backwards, so the victim who’s been struck down seems to leap towards the blow.” That metaphoric film is the narrative that assembles itself in the mind and memory of protagonist George Webb. We first meet Webb on the anniversary of the day when language teacher Sarah Nash killed her husband Bob, a successful gynaecologist [sic] who had just ended his affair with Kristina Lazic, the Croatian refugee who had been Sarah’s pupil and their houseguest, and was returning to her formerly embattled homeland. The tricky narrative circles around the day of that murder, which is juxtaposed against related occasions and memories: the day Webb’s wife Rachel left him, following his dismissal from the force for assaulting a suspect and botching a probable conviction; Sarah Nash’s first meeting with the p.i. Webb and his instant attraction to her; the day at the golf course during Webb’s youth when he discovered his own father’s adultery; and the present day, when Webb observes the rituals of bringing flowers to Bob Nash’s grave, and visiting the prison where Sarah waits, another ghost from his past that he’s unable to embrace. The story is a triumph of tone: its slowly accreting portrayal of a life unraveling with agonizing slowness, haunted by infidelity, secrecy, and guilt, gathers great emotional power. It is, however, intermittently redundant and sluggish, and the potentially rich character of Sarah is (deliberately, we understand) never brought fully into focus. Nevertheless, The Light of Day is an elegant and gripping text: a virtuoso fusion of noir-drenched mystery and psychological analysis reminiscent of similar recent works by Kazuo Ishiguro and Paul Auster.

A moody lament for a vanished past, present, and future that grates subtly on the nerves and lingers uncomfortably in the memory.

Pub Date: May 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-41549-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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