From the beginning to the end The Joyce Girl is an enchanting tale, beautifully written. It drew me in and wouldn’t let go; I was caught and trapped right up to the epilogue. And what a cast of characters … their names kept dropping from this book like exotic fruits, starting with James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Madam Egorova, Alexander Calder, Nijinsky, Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Stella Steyn, Thomas McGreevy, Pablo Picasso, Dr Carl Gustav Jung, Gertrude Stein, Margaret Morris, John O’Sullivan, Isadora Duncan, and Stirling Calder all get a mention.
Starr’s novel is wholly contemporary – we are in twenty first century New York, no question – but it also harks back to post-war noir and Jacobin revenge dramas of yore. Sin is indelible, so too self-delusion and self-justification. These people – Adam and Johnny, Dana the wife and Marissa the daughter – cannot become better.
Kristel Thornell has roll-played Agatha’s creativity and expression to perfection and delivers an excellent discourse of the famous crime writers’ intercourse with her acquaintances. Flashbacks enrich the pages and regularly remind me of her once read autobiography. The method used was very inventive, for example while partaking a Turkish bath some memories of her childhood are released and I’m overjoyed to find ‘Auntie-Grannie,’ ‘Nursie’ and the ‘Gunman’ unexpectedly arrive.
However, this is a book that once opened cannot be put down till the last satisfying page. Erika Swylers elegant style shines through in a way that will leave the reader longing for the release of her second novel. If it is anything like this one, Erika is destined for the best-seller lists.
Someone Must Die is suspenseful and fast-paced. The mystery of what went wrong with the Lynd marriage intrigues us throughout the novel, and relates to the kidnapping. Plot twists are what keep us on the edges of our chairs, but the characters and the human story stick in our minds. Award-winning author Sharon Potts, who is prominent in the Mystery Writers of America organization, has created rounded characters whom we will remember after we close the book.
The author of We.Are.Family talks about his new novel, about his need to write, about some of the key themes in his book (among other things, ghosts, angels and UFOs), on writing difficult scenes, his characters, the unusual structure of the book, on moving between genres, the two best pieces of writing advice he’s ever received, some of his favourite books, on living the writing life, and lots more.
The novel will interest other writers because of its narrative features. Ms. Gold avoids murky stream-of-consciousness passages by presenting the story in the third person. Flashbacks are signalled by a shift from present tense to past. A writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and a prize-winning author, Ms. Gold knows her craft.
I would categorize this book as historical fiction first and foremost, though it is touted as magical realism. I had this in the back of my mind as I read, but other than Beulah’s mysterious arrival in town and her omnipresence for most of the rest of the book, the “magical realism” elements weren’t obvious—until the end. This is where Graham’s gift of storytelling shines through
Obviously Robin Gregory is a well-read writer. Not only does she mimic Homer’s “wine dark sea” with the novel’s opening of “dories…and spider crabs flood[ing] the beach like a ghostly pink tide,” but also refers back to great YA series like A Series of Unfortunate Events through her grim imaginativeness. Gritty magical realism is in vogue, if we account for the non-YA St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi beside which The Improbable Wonders holds its own.
Every story told in the book is written as a past memory and Lucy intertwines her own reflections as she tells her story. The story is told through the narrator’s point of view in the same fashion one would write a memoir about his or her own life. What Elizabeth Strout has done so brilliantly is convinced readers that Lucy’s life is real and we are a part of it.