An original and psychologically rich tale in need of a bit of some drama to match.

THE FAMILY CLAUSE

A patriarch’s visit to his adult children triggers some lingering stresses and pushes everyone to a breaking point.

Khemiri’s fifth novel and third to be translated into English tracks 10 emotionally stressful days in the life of one family in Stockholm. Twice a year the “grandfather” (characters are identified solely by their familial roles) comes to the city to visit his son and daughter, but his arrival is treated like that of a coming storm. He’s casually bigoted, critical of nearly everyone he interacts with, and his visits seem less loving than strategic: His son maintains a flat for him to stay in so he can claim Swedish residency and dodge taxes in his (unnamed) home country. The son is thinking of breaking this “father clause,” but he’s long been timid and indecisive and is now ground down as a stay-at-home dad to a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. (There are multiple attenuated scenes of him stressfully prepping the tots for the day; true to Scandinavian literary fiction standards, bowel movements are prominent.) Nearby, the daughter, who’s pregnant, is having second thoughts about her boyfriend, a know-it-all film buff stuck in a job as a PE teacher. The son has spent years uncertain about his career direction (on this tumultuous week he’s giving stand-up comedy a try), and a prominent theme in the novel is men’s need for approval from their fathers and the various ways they suffer from that need. Khemiri’s shifting perspectives across characters (including, at one point, that of a ghost) effectively conjure up a mood of dread, which intensifies as we learn more about the grandfather’s third child and the circumstances of her death. But the novel’s climactic plot turns are mild in comparison to the foreboding tone that precedes them; the concluding feeling is less of things coming to a head than a general muddling through.

An original and psychologically rich tale in need of a bit of some drama to match.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-13432-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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