RaveThe Boston Globe\"More than many of her contemporaries, the British writer Tessa Hadley understands that life is full of moments when the past presses up against the present, and when the present transforms the past. Her brilliant new novel, Late in the Day, explores both with equal urgency ... Hadley is masterful at showing her characters over time ... At the heart of Late in The Day are ineffable, unanswerable questions... In Hadley’s gorgeous, utterly absorbing novel we experience these questions, as her characters do, moving between light and darkness, and back again.\
RaveThe Boston Globe\"In Ryan’s accomplished hands, we care about each of his three men—their hopes, their fears, their longings—and yet willingly move on to the next [section]. Each section displays Ryan’s range as a writer ... In the short final section these vivid narratives come together, and we understand what has been hiding in plain sight in Lampy and John’s stories. Such is Ryan’s devotion to his characters that none of this feels willed but rather like the best kind of revelation ... Ryan writes with brilliant empathy about those in between.\
RaveThe Boston GlobeGrace belongs to several great traditions — the picaresque novel, the coming-of-age novel, and the orphan novel ... The familiar world was made new, in the worst way, by the famine; Lynch makes it new again by his prose ... Memorable phrases abound: Colly is 'rivered with words,' a morning is 'sleeved with blue-cold,' bread has a 'buttery-licky smell.' For the most part Lynch’s muscular, vivid voice serves him and his material superbly. Just occasionally, when, for instance, Grace is once again in danger, did I long for the voice to be less intrusive, to simply let me see and hear what was happening ... Not surprisingly Grace is a relentless novel, but Lynch allows his heroine a true complexity of feeling — about her brother, her mother, Bart, and what she sees happening around her — that allows the reader to empathize even as we wring our hands. Grace is not only a gripping tale about an appalling period in history — although that would be quite enough — but also, sadly, piercingly relevant; this year in East Africa 20 million people are facing starvation.
MixedThe Boston GlobeFor much of the novel, it is Roseanne's heart-breaking account of her life that dominates and drives these pages. Born in Sligo to a Protestant family, she paints a vivid picture of the love of her life, her father, and their early years together … Braided in with Roseanne's narrative is what Dr. Grene calls his ‘Commonplace Book.’ His prose is less lustrous than Roseanne's and, in addition, he has the hard job of telling a less dramatic story … As his story unfolds we gradually discover that Roseanne's history, with all its tragedy, may not be quite what it seems. Best of all, in the final part of the book, Dr. Grene turns out to have his own story, which intersects with Roseanne's in a satisfying manner.
RaveThe Boston GlobeSmith is devoted to her characters, but she is also devoted to her city, and ‘Visitation’ is interrupted by descriptions both factual and vividly poetic … NW forgoes some of the novel’s conventional pleasures, such as a strong plot, or the kind of suspense that accompanies plot. Although crimes are committed and, as the part titles testify, connections made, Smith is not interested in exploring the unbroken line of cause and effect. What NW does offer, in abundance, is the sense of being plunged with great immediacy into the lives of these characters and their neighborhood.
RaveThe MillionsThe novel itself opens with a storm. ‘You could feel that something terrible was going to happen. The sun low in the sky, a minor light, a cooling star. Gust after gust of disorder.’ In the gorgeous, cascading pages that follow, those gusts blow through the Lambert family. Illuminated by Jonathan Franzen’s brilliant prose, bill paying, grocery shopping, depression, Christmas holidays, a walk to the corner shop become subjects of breathless interest and, often, wild humor.
RaveThe Boston GlobeI finished The Past sadly — why did it have to end? — with a sense that I had understood something profound about both Hadley’s characters, and my own life. Many readers will, I suspect, in the presence of this exhilarating novel feel the same.