Hale’s prose is friendly and funny, but she doesn’t bring her premise to life.


Mormon housewife meets British heartthrob, and the two become best friends. Disbelief is duly suspended.

Hale, author of a number of imaginative YA titles and an adult novel (Austenland, 2007), here offers a strange concoction: a romantic comedy missing romantic leads. In Los Angeles to sell a screenplay (what luck, and on her first try!), pregnant Becky bumps into Felix Callahan (think Colin Firth/Hugh Grant). They engage in the kind of witty repartee that hasn’t been heard since Carole Lombard graced the screen, and become bosom buddies. Becky returns to Utah and her husband Mike, resuming their happy suburban life filled with church and children. This leaves little room for a movie-star friend, especially since Felix is sophisticated, in possession of a “potty mouth” and an atheist with an aversion to children, while Becky is devoted to her kids, baking and the million other domestic miracles that occupy a day. Yet this mismatched pair improbably adore each other, and Mike is jealous. Though concerned—as are friends, family and church—Becky finally decides it is alright to be at home alone with a man who is not her husband: Felix, who is happily married to a French model, can be her friend! They chat every day and even make a movie together. (Yes! Starring Becky!) The odd, safe fantasy Hale has created is then jangled by a more sober realism. Mike gets cancer, and the domestic bliss Becky has enjoyed comes to a crushing end. Becky’s devotion to her husband, her depression, her inability to see a romantic future for herself—all these elements ring true and tragic. Unfortunately, the novel hinges on Felix and Becky’s relationship, and aside from a mutual love of quick-witted banter, their friendship is largely unbelievable.

Hale’s prose is friendly and funny, but she doesn’t bring her premise to life.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59691-288-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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

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