A dark novel marred by occasional melodrama but lightened by often hilarious dialogue.

THE HEART'S INVISIBLE FURIES

The Irish writer’s 10th novel for adults examines one man’s life over the course of 70 years to reveal the personal and societal toll of Ireland’s repression of homosexuality.

It’s 1945, and a philandering Catholic priest is throwing 16-year-old Catherine Goggin out of church and the village for being unwed and pregnant as her family looks on silently. With quick strokes and bitter humor, Boyne’s (A History of Loneliness, 2015, etc.) opening scene encapsulates the Irish church’s hypocrisy and utter control of a meek flock. Having taken on the church’s sexual abuse of children in his previous novel, Boyne continues his crusading ways with the quiet keening of this painful, affecting novel. Catherine will travel to Dublin and give birth after saving the life of a gay youth whose partner is beaten to death by his own father. Her son, Cyril, the book’s first-person narrator, is adopted in infancy by a wealthy Dublin couple. He is smitten at 7 with a boy his age who visits the house, and even more so at 14, when they are roommates in school, but he mutes his passion for the handsome, charismatic Julian as they become close friends. As Boyne captures Cyril every seven years, his 20s feature a double life, secret promiscuity and public straightness. Then, he briefly marries (1973), flees Ireland, finds love in Amsterdam (1980), and works with AIDs patients in New York (1987). There, he suffers two wrenching losses—which also, happily, mark the end of Cyril’s tendency to forget he’s a witty, ironic conversationalist and veer close to maudlin self-pity. His later years in Ireland seem to bring the promise of reconciliation on several fronts, but there is still penance and pain until the book’s last word.

A dark novel marred by occasional melodrama but lightened by often hilarious dialogue.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6078-6

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THE GREAT ALONE

In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.

After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.

A tour de force.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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