PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewA sharply observed, wickedly funny political satire by the reliably brilliant A.M. Homes ... Homes is a gifted satirist, a keen observer of bourgeois manners and mores. Here, she nails the psychic particularities of the politically conservative American male ... Homes puts her finger on the fault line, giving voice to the nebulous fears and fantasies of the old Republican plutocracy ... [The Big Guy\'s] racism is presented as fact but never explored — a missed opportunity and ultimately, the novel’s greatest failing. From the outset, Homes walks a fine line between realism and caricature. By choosing not to examine her protagonist’s racism, she denies us full access to his psyche ... Instead of a deeply imagined, fully human character, rife with complexities and contradictions, The Big Guy is reduced to a type ... The Unfolding — Homes’s first novel in 10 years — reads like a story conceived in another era.
PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewFor Tyler fans, this is familiar territory: the quotidian frictions and rewards of family life in white, middle-class Baltimore. But while her earlier novels were heavy on domestic details, vividly evoking the texture of daily life, French Braid is less fully imagined, the characters less developed. There are simply too many years to cover, too many children and grandchildren to keep track of. The younger Garretts are drawn haphazardly, or not at all. Five decades into her career, one gets the sense that Tyler is no longer quite so interested in the details. Instead, French Braid offers something subtler and finer, the long view on family: what remains years later, when the particulars have been sanded away by time. The tone is wistful, elegiac ... French Braid is a novel about what is remembered, what we’re left with when all the choices have been made, the children raised, the dreams realized or abandoned. It is a moving meditation on the passage of time ... French Braid is the opposite of reassuring. The novel is imbued with an old-school feminism of a kind currently unfashionable. It looks squarely at the consequences of stifled female ambition — to the woman herself, and to those in her orbit. For all its charm, French Braid is a quietly subversive novel, tacklinging fundamental assumptions about womanhood, motherhood and female aging ... Tyler takes aim at a sentimental trope deeply embedded in American culture. The feminist movement notwithstanding, popular culture...still clings to the notion of motherhood as the ultimate emotional fulfillment, the great and crowning satisfaction of a woman’s life. For Mercy Garrett, that simply isn’t the case.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... propulsive, fiercely confident ... To her great credit, Taddeo resists the pressure—rampant these days—to craft a likable, \'relatable\' female narrator. In Animal she gleefully does the opposite ... Taddeo can write a killer sentence ... She’s at her best when exploring the murky, sometimes twisted relations between men and women ... If all this sounds far-fetched, it is. Taddeo isn’t a subtle writer. But what she lacks in nuance, she makes up for in bravado, psychological acuity and sly wit. Joan’s voice is so sharp and magnetic that the reader will follow her anywhere—even to the dark and increasingly unbelievable depths her creator sends her ... The world of Animal is relentlessly bleak. If its particulars don’t always make sense, its values at least remain consistent ... Writing a novel is a shell game—an elaborate con in which the author aims to dazzle with what she does well, in hopes of distracting the reader from what she can’t do at all. Taddeo’s prose glitters. She has a gift for aphorism, the observation that astonishes. She is less successful at imagining the shape of a life. As the story unfolds, Joan’s depravity has a numbing effect, and the unremitting degeneracy of the male characters begins to seem didactic. The intention seems less to shine a light on human nature than to cast it in funhouse shapes ... Taddeo is writing with all her stars out, though they shone a little brighter when life itself supplied the plot.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...engrossing, highly readable, darkly sexy ... [a] transporting novel ... Solomon is a truth teller. Her observations of domestic life — rote marital sex, the steady drip of compromise, the sine wave of intimacy and irritation — are unfailingly sharp ... The Book of V. is a meditation on female power and powerlessness, the stories told about women and the ones we tell about and to ourselves.
Harriet Alida Lye
RaveThe New York Times\"It’s a satisfying setup, reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, the entire cast of characters marooned together in an exotic locale. Strange events ensue. Silvia drinks from a garden hose and finds the water blood-colored. The group is afflicted with head lice. A swim in a murky pond disturbs an unimaginable number of frogs, which soon infiltrate the house. The incidents seem related to an unprecedented drought that’s making the bees anxious. Clearly, evil is afoot ... The writing is uneven, but Lye is at her best when describing the natural world ... When it comes to creating suspense, The Honey Farm succeeds almost too well.