Amazingly, the shaggy tale winds up more conclusively than any of Echenoz’s four previously translated novels (Big Blondes,...


Crime novel, the 1999 Prix Goncourt–winner, that’s also a whimsical tale of the eternal (and eternally rewarding) midlife search for new partners and a deadpan commentary on its own contrivances.

“I’m going,” Parisian art dealer Felix Ferrer tells his wife Suzanne as he walks out on her in the opening sentence. But before he can get where he’s going, Echenoz—in a fine demonstration of Zeno’s paradox—has to explain how Ferrer’s new assistant, Jean-Philippe Delahaye, beguiled him with talk of a Canadian ship laden with Paleoarctic artworks icebound somewhere off the District of Mackenzie, and how Ferrer shuttles imperturbably from one woman to the next, who’s always providentially right around the corner, and what made Ferrer turn from creating art to selling it in the first place. For quite a while, in fact, it seems that the blandly determined hero, plowing through the Arctic ice fields under eternal summer sun, will never reach the Nechilik, although suspense is short-circuited both by the playfully flat prose, faithfully rendered by Echenoz’s longtime translator Polizzotti, and by the sense of anticlimax with which otherwise decisive actions sneak up on the puppets. Meanwhile, back in Paris, “we’ve just learned of Delahaye’s tragic disappearance”; his funeral is secretly watched by a new agent, one Baumgartner, whose choice of a confederate called The Flounder indicates that he’s obviously up to no good. But that’s the only thing that’s obvious about a plot whose criminal mastermind admits to the influence of TV movies and whose author complains that “the whole thing lacks motivation” and is just plain boring to boot.

Amazingly, the shaggy tale winds up more conclusively than any of Echenoz’s four previously translated novels (Big Blondes, 1997, etc.), though nearly every sentence crackles with enough sly humor to keep the author’s postmodern credentials intact.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56584-628-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet