The narrative presents a deftly crafted tale relating the journey of a young woman who manages to face, accept and overcome what many would believe to be an impossible childhood. Periods of normalcy are interspersed with periods that are anything but normal, receiving and unexpectedly having pets given away, or left behind, left on her own way too often by both her Mother and Wolf cause Fiona to do much of the raising of herself.
Despite its often bleak outlook, Normal People is a hopeful book, and though the trajectory of Connell and Marianne is often painful at times, intellect and emotion pulling in opposite direction, Normal People is a powerful read that not only provides insight into the young, modern mind, but also which provides a classic thematic in a modernistic, tight and compelling format.
The clock dance in Anne Tyler’s new novel originates with three pre-teen girls who line up behind each other and move their arms like the hands of a clock. Time flies; life is short, too short to be stalled in a negative pattern left over from childhood, especially if you are sixty-one years old, as is the protagonist, Willa.
Lyrical and solemn, The Shades underscores the sense of meaninglessness that follows the death of a family member. Through its piecemeal narration that takes readers through various perspectives, the novel’s characters never quite seem to move past what has happened—instead, it is as though they swim eternally in their own fear of death.
Without exception, her characters are fully realized, interesting and complex; each has his or her own voice. They are from the working class and the underclass, and occasionally the criminal class. Their tragi-comic story is engaged with our times and resonates precisely with the national zeitgeist. A Body’s Just as Dead entertains us, enlightens us, moves us. It is a fine novel and a joy to read.
In some ways, Do the Wrong Thing is a metafictional novel (memoir? meditation? remembered dream?) par excellence, for it contains deliberate errors, metatextual tags, lists and poems, plus the occasional illustration.
The first third of A Thing of the Moment is by far the most successful part of the novel. Its gradual unfolding of the children’s individual lives is compelling and increasingly disturbing, particularly Isabella’s bizarre and horrifying family. Injustice, unfairness, evil – seen through the eyes of a child, these things have an existential weight and determining force that can distort a life forever.
Although Love and Ruin is a first-rate historical novel, it might not have pleased Gellhorn, because, in a way, it reduces her to a footnote in Hemingway’s life. By focusing on 1936-1945, Gellhorn’s “Hemingway” years, McLain makes them seem the major experience of Gellhorn’s life, when in fact they were just a blip on the radar screen of Gellhorn’s eighty-nine year life span. Even so, Love and Ruin is a page-turner, a novel that’s hard to put down.
With its descriptions of a collective madness sparked by mendacity and greed disguised as irresistible ‘progress’, Welcome to Saint Angel has literary antecedents in the cynical realism of Sinclair Lewis and the paranoid desperation of Nathaniel West, plus a liberal dose of Gore Vidal in his Duluth mood.
All in all, Nance has done a marvelous job in creating a well-written, suspenseful novel. His language is crisp and fresh, and his world-building is authentic, and his pacing just fast enough to keep readers at the edge of their seat, but slow enough to let them enjoy the ride. He has crafted a compelling, engrossing novel with more than one scene of gritty-realism that will prickle the back of your neck.