RaveThe Washington TimesPeople often talk about being thrown back solely on their own inner resources, but seldom can there have been a more stark, or a more true, example of such a phenomenon than Judt’s Memory Chalet. For such was his capacity for summoning up the interstices of his past in those nocturnal forensic journeys of the mind that he was able the next day to communicate them, and that is what we have, in all their glory, in these pages ... These recollections range widely from the intensely personal and autobiographical to social, cultural and political observations that remind the reader not only of the author’s intellect - that \'analytically disposed mind,\' as he put it - but of his lifelong engagement with the great issues of his own time and the past that shaped it.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalEarly in the novel, the narrator, writing from the perspective of the present day, says that he is trying ‘to imagine who the boy on the ship was.’ The novel then moves seamlessly into a first-person tale from the time of the events themselves, capturing the immediacy of an 11-year-old's reactions to being plunged into an amazing world full of things never before encountered. Along the way, sequel moments and retrospective insights—about early childhood, about schooldays and future romance—are embedded in the narrative, shifting time back and forth artfully and giving a larger frame to events, conveying a sense of the sea journey's role in Michael's larger destiny … [Mr. Ondaatje is] a master at creating characters, whom he chooses to present, memorably, as individuals. This choice is of a piece with the freshness and originality that are the hallmarks of The Cat's Table.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleEvery detail in On Chesil Beach tells the reader that the new age has not yet dawned, starting with the fact that Edward and Florence are honeymooning on England's Dorset coast and not the shores of the Mediterranean. There's little swinging of any kind; Britannia has ceased to rule (as is pointed out in the novel) but is not yet remotely cool … Not only is it full of meaningful, organically significant details, but its narrative ebbs and flows in a way that demonstrates the most masterly narrative control. The story unfolds in a perfect manner, withholding now and then for effect, even omitting sometimes, with the result that On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel.
MixedThe Los Angeles TimesOn the heels of his last novel, World Without End, which took place in the Middle Ages, Ken Follett sets his formidable fictive sights a mere 100 years ago in Fall of Giants ...even the grandest topics can do with some human faces to bring them to life, and Follett has chosen to tell his tale through five families, from England, Germany, Russia, the United States … and Wales ...the Welsh sections of Fall of Giants stand out in boldface far more vividly than anything else in the novel ...his novel is reliably progressive in its viewpoint, whether dealing with the struggle for women's suffrage or the class system... Fictional characters are mixed in with real ones, but all are clearly drawn from life, making readers feel a certain comforting familiarity as they weave their way through all manner of turmoil and strife ...despite all its decorative embellishments, it has neither the requisite flavor or texture to satisfy.
RaveThe Los Angeles Times[Bring Up the Bodies] is more than the equal of its predecessor when it comes to intensity and drama, its portrait of Cromwell ever more evocative and nuanced as he disposes of a queen, more elevated than a mere cardinal (Wolsey) and saint (Thomas More), whose downfalls were front and center in Wolf Hall ... Perhaps Mantel's most remarkable achievement is to enlist just enough of the reader's sympathy to empathize with Cromwell as they perch on his shoulder and at times even enter his mind — if not quite his soul — as he works his wiles on victims and those who can help him engineer their downfall. Of course it helps that in Anne Boleyn he has such an unsympathetic foil, for if she was unpleasant as the simpering wily upstart determined to climb up the ladder in Wolf Hall, she is still more so now that she is crowned and anointed.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIt's as if a Victorian novelist—steeped in Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, with their sense of character, plot, atmosphere and texture—had the benefit of the modernist masters, where the manner of recounting the story is as important as the story itself … The Luminaries offers instances of avarice, fear and all manner of desperation. Hokitika, for American readers, may bring to mind the iconography of the Wild West—the brothel, the saloon, the general store—and the varied fortunes of the mining camp, with its wild-eyed prospectors, the lucky few who hit it rich, the unlucky many who do not, each preying on the other for advantage … Ms. Catton appears to use the star-mapped sky as an occasional, even ironical, form of commentary, as well as an ornament to her already elaborate plot and mix of characters. In this marvelously inventive novel, nothing is quite what it first appears to be, but everything is illuminated.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesDim, un-glamorous Tony is the perfect complacent character to have his world shaken up and, with the unexpected arrival of a legacy — in part monetary but also including a tangible chunk of history — he duly sets about reevaluating his past. What he discovers in the course of this picaresque quest of self-examination upends his comfortable self-image and fundamentally reconfigures relationships to and among people he believed were only tangentially related to his life's journey … The emotional roller coaster ride that Tony Webster has taken with us perched on his shoulder has such heft and intensity that we feel we too have truly experienced his life-altering revision of what he mistakenly believed to be a humdrum existence.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...a brisk and compelling portrait of wartime Britain ... One of Ms. Olson’s strengths is the way she weaves the experience of little-known players with those of exalted rank or position ... Ms. Olson is exceptionally good at following up on what happened to her cast of characters beyond the book’s stated purview, which makes her account all the more satisfying ... Last Hope Island might have benefited from a broader context for the dramatic episode that Ms. Olson presents. Greece and Yugoslavia, whose royal houses also fled to London, barely appear in her narrative.
Alice Arlen and Michael J. Arlen
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"...a vivid and entertaining biography ... The seamless collaborative authorship of The Huntress has produced the best of all possible results. On the one hand, it is obviously a labor of love, a tribute, although never an intrusive one, to a revered aunt who died when Alice Arlen was in her early 20s. On the other, it is a dispassionate, though engagingly written, biographical chronicle.\
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleBut the man as well as poet certainly gets his due. There is a palpable sense here of a felt life here. Indeed, Hughes jumps off its pages, his presence sometimes even dominating his verse.