OUT TO CANAAN

More literary comfort food, as Karon agreeably records another year in Mitford, the small town where every problem has a human face and where Father Tim, the Episcopalian rector, is always there to help. Again, like its three predecessors (These High, Green Hills, 1996, etc.), Karon's latest continues the stories of now-familiar Mitford citizens. And again, always at the heart of the action is 60-something Father Tim Kavanagh, who, with wife Cynthia, an author and illustrator, is now ``getting ready to. . . go out to Canaan''- -to retire. Kavanagh is one of those rare literary creations—a credible good man whose goodness comes from faith, humility, and a zest for life. He is a loving pastor who's ever ready to respond to his flock's needs. And needs they have. When Lace, the young girl he rescued from a violent father, is unable to help the ailing Harley, who once took care of her, Tim gives him a home in the rectory; he also helps recovering alcoholic Pauline find work, as well as the baby daughter she gave away; and he advises Winnie, owner of the local bakery, on how to thwart a crooked realtor. Meanwhile, there's a mayoral election to contend with, as Esther Cunningham is challenged by the suspiciously free-spending Mack Stroupe. And a Florida company wants to turn Fernbank, a Mitford landmark, into a spa. While Tim responds to crises, major and minor, he is poignantly aware that his days as a rector are numbered. But as he drives around on Christmas Eve, there's still much to celebrate (``if there were a poll-tax on joy this night of nights, he'd be dead broke''). A heart-warmer that diverts the spirit as it uncloyingly celebrates life in all its quirkiness in a small town. (First printing of 100,000; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-670-87485-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1997

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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