TURTLE DIARY

"Funny," says George Fairbairn, keeper of the giant turtles in a London aquarium, to William G., "you're the second this week that's asked me about turtle transport." That other is children's author Neaera H., also, like William G., middle-aged and miserable, and also unhappily aware that she is going to find a way to return the imprisoned creatures to the sea. In their alternating diary entries—playful, sardonic, sauced with self-pity—the two strangers contemplate their quest, inevitably joint once they meet. "There is no place for me to find," writes Neaera gloomily, "there is a drive in them to find something." William moves on the same track: "A turtle doesn't have to decide every morning whether to keep on bothering, it just carries on." So two lonely people transport the turtles, with George's help, off to the sea in a van—a gigantic bother but with a joyful moment or two as the mission is accomplished. Then the morning-after letdown and the realization that "You can't do it with turtles." But there is a happy ending as Neaera welcomes George into her life and her bed, and William, who literally fights his way into the friendship of an untidy fellow boarding-house tenant, inadvertently discovers he doesn't really mind being alive. Festooned with swags of farce and wit, this is nonetheless a fairly convincing topographical survey of the despondent slough of the middle years and the games of touch and go which can lead one to happy vistas or the open sea. Immensely entertaining.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1975

ISBN: 0747548315

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1975

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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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