Everyone has dark secrets. It's why God invented confession and booze, two balms frequently employed in Sullivan's well-wrought sophomore effort.
Alice Brennan is Irish American through and through, the daughter of a cop, a good Catholic girl so outwardly pure that she's a candidate for the papacy. But Alice, more than that, is an Irish rose, "one of the most special young women out there, just waiting for someone to take notice." When Sullivan (Commencement, 2009) introduces to her, someone has taken notice, and decades have rolled by, and Alice Kelleher is now reflecting on 60 years of life at a beachside cottage that her husband won at gambling. She spends her days drinking red wine, reading, "watching the waves crash against the rocks until it was time to make supper," and avoiding her children's pointed demands that she not drink so much—and especially that she not drive once she'd had a few belts. As Sullivan's tale unfolds, there are plenty of reasons that Alice might wish to avoid taking too close a look at her life: There's tragedy and heartbreak around every corner, as there is in every life. So it is with the intertwined tales of her daughter and granddaughter, who are more modern creatures, all bound up in confessional groups of their own, yoga, homeopathy and all the other stuff of the contemporary examined life. Sullivan spins a leisurely yarn that looks into why people do the things they do—particularly when it comes to drinking and churchgoing—and why the best-laid plans are always the ones the devil monkeys with the most thoroughly. The story will be particularly meaningful to Catholic women, though there are no barriers to entry for those who are not of that faith.
Mature, thoughtful, even meditative at times—but also quite entertaining.Please Look after Mom by Kyung-sook Shin
Shin's affecting English-language debut centers on the life of a hardworking, uncomplaining woman who goes missing in a bustling Seoul subway station. After Park So-nyo's disappearance, her grown children and her husband are filled with guilt and remorse at having taken So-nyo for granted and reflect, in a round-robin of narration, on her life and role in their lives. Having, through Mom's unstinting dedication, achieved professional success, her children understand for the first time the hardships she endured. Her irresponsible and harshly critical husband, meanwhile, finally acknowledges the depth of his love and the seriousness of her sacrifices for him. Narrating in her own voice late in the book, the spirit of Mom watches her family and finally voices her lifelong loneliness and depression and recalls the one secret in her life. As memories accrue, the narrative becomes increasingly poignant and psychologically revealing of all the characters, and though it does sometimes go soggy with pathos, most readers should find resonance in this family story, a runaway bestseller in Korea poised for a similar run here.
Quicksilver by Amanda Quick
The only thing that surprises high-level glasslight talent Virginia Dean more than waking up in a glittering mirrored room next to a dead body is having enigmatic investigator Owen Sweetwater, a man she has little reason to trust, come to her rescue. But Owen is not there by accident. He is hunting a killer targeting glasslight readers, and he badly needs Virginia's help. Intrigued, Virginia warily agrees, never thinking that in working so closely with Owen to unmask a sociopath, she will fall in love with, and be claimed by, one of the most dangerous men she has ever met. This is the second in the trilogy within the larger "Arcane Society" series featuring books written by Jayne Ann Krentz under all of her noms de plume. Quicksilver follows the contemporary In Too Deep by Krentz. The last book, Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle, Krentz's futuristic alter ego, is scheduled for a September release. VERDICT Once again the ever-entertaining Quick treats readers to a wickedly witty, mercurial tale, filled with her own sexy brand of humor-laced sensuality, an abundance of intriguing characters (including a dazzling collection of Millicent Bridewell's exquisitely made, deadly clockwork toys), and a lively adventure successfully resolved but lightly peppered with tantalizing hints of what's to come.