RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewNo one states problems more correctly, more astutely, more amusingly and more uncomfortably than Francine Prose. If there were a George Bernard Shaw Prize for Crisp Compassion and Amused Disappointment in the Species, Prose would have won it many times over ... Prose writes sentences that make me laugh out loud. Her insights, the subtle ones and the two-by-fours, make me shake my head in despair, in surprise, in heartfelt agreement. The gift of her work to a reader is to create for us what she creates for her protagonist: the subtle unfolding, the moment-by-moment process of discovery as we read and change, from not knowing and even not wanting to know or care, to seeing what we had not seen and finding our way to the light of the ending.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTyler knows what she’s doing ... This Baltimore is singularly Anne Tyler’s spool, ladder and planet. And Anne Tyler knows that memory is a powerhouse, a compass and also a liar ... Tyler has every gift a great novelist needs: intent observation, empathy and language both direct and surprising. She has unembarrassed goodness as well. In this time of snark, preening, sub-tweeting and the showy torment of characters, we could use more Tyler.
RaveThe Oprah Magazine...a fierce, intimate, and unstoppably readable saga of family life ... The Dutch House weaves together, with clear-eyed compassion and intuitive, witty honesty, the ties that keep us whole and hold us back ... It’s Patchett’s ability to fully articulate the richest and most complex emotions that leaves the reader marveling, and always wanting more.
Rachel Louise Snyder
RaveThe GuardianSnyder is here to tell us, in her clear, smooth and accessible style (never folksy but never academic, and so matter-of-fact you can feel the writer holding herself in check so as not to overwhelm us with painful details), that we have misunderstood. The most dangerous place for an American woman to be – the most dangerous place on Earth – is in her own home ... There is a river of shame and grief in this book, and even the most well meaning wade in it ... once you read Snyder’s book it is impossible not to see a whole culture (at its most normal – I am including lots of fond dads and grandpas, not Trump and his henchmen) of women fetching and soothing and placating ... It turns out that this ancient and unending wave of violence can be, if not stopped dramatically, permanently limited. Snyder lays it out and says: what will it take?
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"Rosellen Brown has a great ear, a great eye, a great love of the painful twists and turns that happen in a human life and the big twists and turns of American history. She lays out these gifts in The Lake on Fire, her first overtly \'historical\' novel and her first novel in 18 years ... The compelling, gaudy background is the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and its electric (literally) impact on the Midwest and on America’s imagination ... The Lake on Fire is about the making of America... and within this epic story, the making of a person, Chaya Shaderowsky, rising and falling, failing and flailing and making her painful, blazingly aware way, in our America.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewFlanders has unearthed all sorts of interesting facts, none of them dull, the tower of them a bit overwhelming. She spends a detailed 245 pages showing us that Christmas Future is whatever people will need it to be; Christmas Present is what people need now and usually includes a tree-type thing and Santa-type being. It’s Christmas Past that’s the mother lode … What Flanders shows most clearly is that holiday traditions are constantly being invented to give people what they long for, and that the heart of our most modern tradition is the belief that ‘whatever was happening in the world that was wrong … Christmas would bring it to a halt for a period of peace and companionship.’ Christmas, Flanders tells us (and persuades me), offers a wonderful ‘illusion of stability, of long-established communities, a way to believe in an imagined past … while unconsciously omitting the less desirable parts of those times.’
Donna M. Lucey
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...a rollicking snow globe version of an almost unimaginable world of wealth, crackpot notions of self-improvement and high-flying self-indulgence (like now; you know who you are, Goop) woven around an often passionate commitment to, deep admiration for and wide-ranging pursuit of the fine and literary arts (less like now). Lucey is a persistent detective and a bemused, sometimes amused, storyteller, attentive to interesting, hilarious, disturbing detail ... Lucey faces one significant difficulty as she slides these four clearly illuminated and carefully examined pearls onto a fascinating and filigreed chain, even as so many of the details are memorable and revealing. The problem with creating portraits of women from John Singer Sargent’s world is that so many of those portraits have already been brilliantly, unforgettably created and immortalized, from sketch to canvas, by Sargent himself.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewJane Austen at Home is more than just an account of pokers, fire screens, writing desks, Jane’s round spectacles, handsome carriage sweeps in front of handsome houses, some very good and some very disappointing apple pies, the elm-lined walks of the Steventon rectory and the flimsy doors and uneven stairs of a rented house in Bath. But it’s not a great biography, and if it hadn’t been described as one on the cover, I would find even more to praise in these pages ... In Jane Austen at Home, Worsley is shameless, occasionally ebullient and sometimes a little breathless. Worsley is also given to some speculative writing, which is understandable since so much of Jane Austen’s insightful, acerbic correspondence was burned by her devoted, discreet, possibly envious, slightly overbearing older sister, Cassandra ... The thread that runs through Worsley’s chapters describing the many homes, the many residences, rarely grand, often inadequate and sometimes grim, is Austen’s longing for a place of her own, a safe haven in which she can live a little longer, afford a good lamp and comfortable seating and enough time. In this, the book’s central thesis, Worsley is entirely convincing.