Lushly imagined but filled with clichés: basically another “prostitute with a heart of gold” story, tarted up with...

THE DARK BRIDE

Colombian Restrepo (Leopard in the Sun, 1999, etc.) offers a romantic concoction about a community of prostitutes (putas) servicing workers from the oil fields.

A nameless 12-year-old girl arrives in Toro and announces her desire to become a puta to the first person she meets, a boy named Santiago. With misgivings, he takes her to Todos los Santos, a prostitute whose age is catching up with her. Todos sees the possibilities in “the girl” and devotes herself to her upbringing and training. Two years later, as the girl is about to embark on her career, Santiago, her devoted playmate and an idealist, is racked with guilt that he brought her to Todos in the first place. Leaving Toro to seek a fortune that will allow him to save the girl, he ends up at the oil fields, where he befriends Payanés. Meanwhile, the girl transforms herself into Sayonara, the most mysterious and desirable prostitute in the city. Santiago, literally sick with guilt and idealized love, sends Payanés to Toro as his messenger, and, not unexpectedly, the two fall in love. Payanés promises to visit Sayonara one Friday a month, a day she’ll reserve for him alone. Naturally, Payanés and Santiago’s friendship is strained, but Sayonara breaks the putas’ cardinal rule and asks for too much—the permanence of family. Payanés breaks her heart by admitting that he already has a family in his hometown—at which point Santiago jumps into the breach and marries Sayonara. The couple leave Toro, but Santiago is unable to forget that his wife was a prostitute. Eventually, his jealousy drives her back to Toro, where the glory days of the putas have passed. Sayonara disappears again. All await her return.

Lushly imagined but filled with clichés: basically another “prostitute with a heart of gold” story, tarted up with references to Fellini and pretentious pronouncements about love.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-008894-X

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

The story of the entangled affairs of a group of exceedingly smart and self-possessed creative types.

Frances, an aloof and intelligent 21-year-old living in Dublin, is an aspiring poet and communist. She performs her spoken-word pieces with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi, who is equally intellectual but gregarious where Frances is shy and composed where Frances is awkward. When Melissa, a notable writer and photographer, approaches the pair to offer to do a profile of them, they accept excitedly. While Bobbi is taken with Melissa, Frances becomes infatuated by her life—her success, her beautiful home, her actor husband, Nick. Nick is handsome and mysterious and, it turns out, returns Frances’ attraction. Although he can sometimes be withholding of his affection (he struggles with depression), they begin a passionate affair. Frances and Nick’s relationship makes difficult the already tense (for its intensity) relationship between Frances and Bobbi. In the midst of this complicated dynamic, Frances is also managing endometriosis and neglectful parents—an abusive, alcoholic father and complicit mother. As a narrator, Frances describes all these complex fragments in an ethereal and thoughtful but self-loathing way. Rooney captures the mood and voice of contemporary women and their interpersonal connections and concerns without being remotely predictable. In her debut novel, she deftly illustrates psychology’s first lesson: that everyone is doomed to repeat their patterns.

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49905-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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