PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"The Paragon Hotel is set a century ago, but its themes of social and cultural upheaval feel sufficiently fresh that you might think twice about calling Lyndsay Faye’s sixth novel historical fiction. But calling it terrific—not for a minute should you hesitate to do that ... While compelling, the two narratives in Hotel aren’t particularly complementary, and there are moments of dislocation and a need to re-orient as the action switches back and forth between coasts and plotlines, not to mention splendidly named characters ... The great strength of “The Paragon Hotel” is Ms. Faye’s voice—a blend of film noir and screwball comedy ... The jauntiness of the prose doesn’t hide the fact that Ms. Faye has serious business on her mind. At bottom, The Paragon Hotel is about identity and about family—those we’re born into and those we create.\
Alice Sparberg Alexiou
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA musical that opened on Broadway in late 1891 featured a song about a notorious stretch of Manhattan where, as the lyrics went, \'I had one of the devil’s own nights. . . . The Bowery! The Bowery! / They say such things and they do strange things.\' The ditty took America by storm, according to Devil’s Mile, an intermittently engaging cultural history of the Bowery by Alice Sparberg Alexiou, the author of a previous book about the Flatiron building. Fans snapped up the sheet music and danced to the song in dives and drawing rooms.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalShe’s baaaaack. That would be Kate Reddy ... wearier and, frankly, not much wiser ... Kate is closing in on 50 and has a whole new set of problems: a hostile, sexting 16-year-old daughter ... a jobless husband ... And then there is menopause, which in How Hard Can It Be? is less a condition than a character. Ms. Pearson spares not one eldritch detail, not one single hot flash. The reader gets the point quickly. The reader gets cross. Nonetheless, Ms. Pearson writes with great wit and verve. And the sections of the novel that deal with the care of an increasingly demented in-law are genuinely moving.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSilicon Valley big cheese Shelley Stone, the hilariously single-minded protagonist of The Glitch...a mostly terrific satire ... has many a core principle. These include scheduling sex only when she and her husband are changing out of their clothes anyway. Because, really, where’s the pleasure in pleasure? ... The Glitch develops a glitch of its own toward the end. The previously sure-handed Ms. Cohen loses her grip on the narrative and, by sending Shelley on the road to redemption, loses faith in the appeal of an unlikable heroine.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe summer chronicled in The High Season is hell and, come to think of it, high water ... Ms. Blundell knows the territory ... Her account of Ruthie’s coming to grips with a career, a daughter and a community in flux is as touching as it is convincing. And watching her re-connect with a mensch from her past is a pleasure. Yes, it’s high time for a moratorium on chapters composed entirely of texts or emails, a device that seems designed to let middle-aged authors prove that they’re hip to the ways of the young’uns, but it’s a small matter. No bummer, for sure.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSo expertly does first-time novelist Lillian Li conjure the Beijing Duck House...that readers of Number One Chinese Restaurant can almost taste its signature dish and feel the heat of its woks ... Number One Chinese Restaurant, by turns darkly funny and heartbreaking, is sometimes over-plotted, but Ms. Li brings her characters to vivid life.
PanThe Wall Street Journal\"Love and Ruin, a stew of biography and speculation, portrays him as a chauvinist and a bully of the first order. To know him was to love him. To know him better was to get over it. The novel’s prose is studded with cut-rate Hemingway terseness and labored similes ... It is clear that Ms. McLain wants to give Gellhorn her due...Love and Ruin roars to life at such moments, but even the high points are marred by what reads like the self-conscious musings of a schoolgirl’s diary.\
MixedThe Wall Street Journal...[an] eye-opening if often frustrating attempt to rescue Hillis from obscurity and to make the case for her as a proto-feminist ... Ms. Scutts, a postdoctoral fellow in women’s history at the New York Historical Society, is an assiduous researcher and makes some astute observations ... Far too frequently, though, the very, very wordy Ms. Scutts skitters off on tangents whose connection to the subject at hand is remote at best ... Rather more vexingly, The Extra Woman tells more than it shows.
Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda
PanThe Wall Street JournalA high point of the book is the back-and-forth between Mr. Miranda and Ron Chernow, whose biography of Hamilton was the inspiration for the show ... Hamilton is wonderful. Hamilton: The Revolution is not. Rather, it’s a self-promoting, inside-baseball bore that is best enjoyed by perfervid fans of the show ... The Hamilton libretto, which is marbled through the book’s text, makes up for a lot, and Mr. Miranda’s witty and illuminating annotations are a lovely bonus.