RaveNational Review...evocative ... Although Hamnet deals with the death of a child and its effects on his parents, the book is also life-affirming as it suggests ways art can transcend misfortune ... O’Farrell employs the techniques of drama and poetry, with vivid language as well as appeals to the five senses ... O’Farrell offers readers a penetrating look into the creative process itself, while her writing subtly becomes a metaphor for that process — which is the beauty of this novel and certainly no mean feat.
PositiveThe Baltimore SunMeet the quirky but troubled protagonist of Laura Lippman\'s novel, And When She Was Good, which looks at women\'s issues and at the sorry effects of murder, mayhem and drugs. It\'s not chick-lit; nor is it crime fiction. It\'s a little of each ... Lippman wraps her latest stand-alone novel in a who-done-it plot, but she\'s mainly concerned with such subjects as stay-at-home moms, the legalization of prostitution, abusive men and complex mother-daughter relationships. She examines the power of maternal love, specifically how a woman\'s love for her son can help her overcome dire circumstances, and glances at the role of siblings in a blended family ... Although her latest expands her traditional focus on crime, it succeeds for the most part primarily because of Lippman\'s nimble style and her delight in irony and inside jokes.
Nicola Gardini Trans. by Todd Portnowitz
PositiveNational ReviewGardini crafts each chapter so that it feels like an encounter. Offering numerous personal anecdotes from his own life, Gardini’s writing is warm and conversational yet scholarly ... His text considers the form, style, purpose, influence, and themes found in the works of these authors; quotes liberally from their work; and offers Gardini’s own translations while noting the rhetorical devices and figurative language appearing in the original Latin ... Gardini suggests that his book is for a general reader—especially for young students. But it’s hard to imagine many young students from the U.S. responding well to the \'critical and aesthetic genius\' of a writer like Horace (65 B.C.E.–8 C.E.) or to his Ars Poetica, excerpts of which Gardini translates and discusses ... The book is somewhat hard to follow because Gardini doesn’t present his material in chronological order. The authors don’t appear as they would in a history of Latin literature...But this is a quibble with an important and informative book ... Gardini is passionate about his subject and tends to be wordy ... Although Gardini mentions the inspiration of goddesses, the only woman quoted here is Sappho.
MixedThe National ReviewDescribing Hersey’s books in detail, Treglown shows how his experiences meshed with his work; he discusses his childhood and his relationship with his parents as well as with several of his friends and editors ... Treglown, however, says little about Hersey’s first marriage and divorce and his second marriage to Barbara Day. He also says little about Hersey’s five children ... would have been enlivened by including more information about the Hersey family. In the early part of the book, for example, Treglown shows readers that Hersey was very close to his mother, especially after his father’s death. Yet Treglown says next to nothing about his mother’s death ... thoughtful.
PositiveAmericaNumerous religious references add resonance and irony to the novel ... a memoir-like quality, a plot that zig-zags on the road of real and invented, a tone that is conversational and a discursive style ... Ultimately, this novel, which is fiction about nonfiction, has many layers, perhaps too many. Yet in its essence, it is a love story.