PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHalpern’s descriptions of Kit and Cal as 'friendly and companionable' and 'happily enough married' are clearly intended to show Kit’s failure to examine anything under the surface — but the surface itself is too often unexamined as well. Despite these flaws, the novel pays off in sheer plotting. Much as she gave the in-laws a very particular kind of awfulness, Halpern crafts a gratifyingly unexpected, effective answer to the question of what happened between Kit and Cal, with outed secrets and surprising solutions that she plays for minimum melodrama and with realistic warmth. Like Riverton itself, Summer Hours at the Robbers Library feels artfully balanced between the reality of loss and a carefully guarded hope for renewal.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewRest assured that Elinor Lipman is far too canny to weigh her latest novel down in the tedium of real estate ownership. Forget the physical deficiencies of Faith’s bungalow; Lipman is more interested in the characters the new house brings out from the woodwork ... Light and tight, “On Turpentine Lane” is constructed with an almost scary mastery. Not a single thread dangles, not a single character is left without a place in Faith’s world. The story folds out and back in as neatly as an origami flower, and Faith recounts it all with a raised eyebrow and plenty of cheek ... Things fall into place, and we’re never truly meant to fear that they won’t. And yet, while Faith’s growing contentment provides a calm base for the chaos playing out around her, I found myself wishing for a little more tension. It would have helped if the object of Faith’s affection had received the kind of physicality and vividness Lipman lavishes so wonderfully on her more difficult characters ... The novel’s pleasurable uncertainties — and there are many — come from everything that whirls around that stable center.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAs the four adults offer competing accounts of their manipulations, flirtations, delusions and deceptions, the women emerge as far more interesting than the men ... Abnormal psychology may not reveal Ephron, a seasoned novelist, screenwriter, essayist and humorist, at her merciless best, but she excels at characters’ unintended comedy, their emotional warfare and witty observations of travel and consumption.