While not all the pieces are of equal quality, the collection as a whole is further proof that its daring, protean author’s...

DAVID GOLDER, THE BALL, SNOW IN AUTUMN, THE COURILOF AFFAIR

Four works of fiction, three available in English for the first time, by the Russo-French author and Auschwitz victim whose fame was resurrected with the long-lost Suite Française (2006).

The appealing Snow in Autumn, a poignant portrait of often unappreciated devotion in a topsy-turvy world, concerns Tatiana, an old nanny who has worked for rich Russian landowners her entire life. The revolution forces the family to flee; Tatiana follows them to Paris, for they are her people; her dead husband and child barely rate a mention. Less appealing is The Ball, which concerns the plan of an unpleasant, nouveau-riche Parisian couple to launch themselves into society through a ball. Their scheme is foiled by their mistreated 14-year-old daughter, who destroys the invitations, but the destruction is rather contrived. David Golder is the novella that made Némirovsky famous. The eponymous Golder is an old, wealthy oil speculator, an odious Russian Jew transplanted to Paris. After rejecting his longtime partner’s plea for help and driving him to suicide, he joins his family, loathsome parasites, in Biarritz. The story pulses with a passionate misanthropy, tinged with anti-Semitism (an assimilated Jew, Némirovsky eventually converted to Catholicism). It’s crude, yes, but forceful and memorable. Finally there is The Courilof Affair. Of particular interest in our terror-sensitive times, it’s the memoir of a former revolutionary terrorist, now disenchanted. Logna, the son of Russian terrorists, is raised in Switzerland. In 1903, the young man is sent to St. Petersburg to assassinate Courilof, the brutal Minister of Education. Logna infiltrates the household by posing as a doctor (Courilof has liver cancer). In a variation on the Stockholm Syndrome, the terrorist softens towards his enemy, for the Minister has endearing qualities. Replete with ironies, this is the standout work.

While not all the pieces are of equal quality, the collection as a whole is further proof that its daring, protean author’s wretched death was indeed a loss to literature.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-26708-5

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Everyman’s Library

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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