PositiveSan Francisco ChronicleThe interwoven domestic plots and seaside setting allow McCauley, always a keen commentator on cultural mores, opportunity for witty observations on the Airbnb trend, the predictability of tourist traps—Mandy briefly holds a summer job at a store whose dire name, Beachy Keen, she can’t even bring herself to utter—and high schoolers’ stumbling efforts to write about themselves ... There are genuine dark notes, too, as Mandy’s path proves more wayward than either David or Julie could have guessed, past secrets are painfully revealed, and the cold economic realities of the real estate market force them both to acknowledge that their dream of non-wedded domestic bliss may prove a wistful fantasy. Until it does, though, there is the warm fondness these exes have for one another.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewBloom’s lyrical novel, laced with her characteristic wit and wisdom, celebrates love in its fiery and also embered phases ... White Houses is scattered with colorful period references — to, say, the Lindbergh baby’s kidnapping (covered for The A.P. by Hick) and Wallis Simpson (\'famous for kissing up, and kicking down\') — but Bloom employs her research with a light touch. Her narrative is suffused with a vivid sense of the personalities of both Roosevelts, their charms and their arrogance, the loyalty they commanded ... Bloom draws an emotionally convincing picture of this complex domestic tangle.
PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book Review…fluid and compassionate … There is a geographic extension of the Burgess boys’ rivalries in the complex tensions between Mainers and New Yorkers, and it’s hard to think of anyone more convincing on this subject than Elizabeth Strout. Tough, blunt Susan bears some resemblance to the magnificent Maine character of Olive Kitteridge. The brothers themselves have divided emotions when it comes to their old home: the familiar landscape makes Bob ‘unutterably happy,’ while Jim finds the bleakness ‘unbelievably depressing’ … Strout handles her storytelling with grace, intelligence and low-key humor, demonstrating a great ear for the many registers in which people speak to their loved ones.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleAnyone who has seen the recent film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will have the right images to draw on – dim lighting, mustard-colored jackets, rooms full of smoke – as McEwan's heroine, Serena Frome, takes a lowly post in MI5's shabby offices shortly after graduating from Cambridge … Nor will anyone familiar with Atonement...be shocked by this novel's various narrative twists, which a reviewer would reveal at her peril. Suffice it to say that at the heart of Sweet Tooth, as of so much of McEwan's work, is an interest in the nature of identity, and of truth.
RaveThe New York TimesKate Grenville employs a line from Leonardo da Vinci as the epigraph to her gentle, meandering version of this story: ‘An arch is two weaknesses which together make a strength’...Grenville gradually builds just such a structure between her two possible lovers, who are not so much weak as they are wearied by life's indignities and assault … The novel has a heft that is belied by its lighter and more ironic moments. Grenville does her characters the honor of taking their pain seriously and is gracious enough to allow them their hard-earned pleasure. Her ability to move between these elements gives her novel a beautiful balance, and her readers a lasting faith in the necessity of bridges of all kinds.
RaveThe Guardian...[a] richly entertaining debut ... Charles is a wonderfully drawn character, whose success and wealth in America have allowed him to suppress the privations of his childhood ... Chang’s tone is gently ironic toward Charles’s financial collapse, as she enjoys chronicling the absurd excesses of the privileged ... In spite of the losses suffered by Charles and his children, Chang’s smart and engaging novel remains defiantly cheerful.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle powerfully melancholic fiction ... in creating characters from a wide range of classes and nationalities Szalay provides a curiously unified portrait ... If this sounds bleak, well — the settings often are, and yet these closely observed, untitled accounts are unnerving and compelling, and have a haunting cumulative effect ... Dark though it is, Szalay’s work is paradoxically consoling, as he allows his characters, even in the midst of their failure and alienation, unexpected moments of connection ... In this remarkable book, Szalay pursues an essential truth, important to recognize in our globalizing times: The geographies change, yet the self remains.
PositiveThe GuardianThis novel is about horse racing the way Moby-Dick is about a whale; it has a similarly expansive scope, spiritual seriousness and density of grand themes ... Along the way, Morgan wrestles with subjects including the history of Kentucky, slavery and its legacies, the iniquities of American healthcare, Darwinism, geology and relations between the sexes. In the maximalist stakes, Morgan’s novel is a muscular, confident entry ... thematic shading of many of the characters’ interactions gives the tone of this vibrant, humid novel a paradoxical coolness. Morgan’s people are restrained by the architecture of her system, as well as the systems of their American history, and of race and class.