"Set mostly in Washington, it provides shrewd observations about that stiflingly self-centered capital and its public ways and private folkways....[Just] writes perceptively about the contrast between European and American values. Best of all is the epigrammatic quality his writing achieves" - Los Angeles Times
"Exiles in the Garden is [Just's] 16th novel and is, for my money, one of his three best, the others being "A Family Trust" (1978) and "An Unfinished Season" (2004)....he has a loyal following even in this difficult time for the book industry." - Washington Post
"cultured, beautifully controlled fiction....elegant" - Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The novel is fascinatingly readable and at the same time deeper than we expect....[Just] leaves us pondering that ageless question of where the personal becomes the political or if it is possible to maintain a distinction at all." - Miami Herald
"One cannot read the fiction of Ward Just without concluding that we are all expatriates, or, to crib from the title of his latest novel, that we are exiles in the garden of our lives." - Chicago Tribune
"Master novelist Just continues his commanding inquiry into the complexities of inheritance, politics, bloodshed, art, fame, and fate, taking measure of the everlasting wounds of war and moral compromise. A virtuoso writer of graceful wit and offhanded gravitas, Just tells this elegant yet harrowing tale of the entanglement of the personal and the geopolitical in sentences infused with the tensile strength of suspension bridges spanning earthly fire and the dark tides of the psyche."
"Just writes with confidence and authority as he works through larger themes of politics, history, war and historical judgment. This intellectually rigorous narrative is absorbing, timely and very Washington." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ward Just's 16th novel offers further proof that, as much as any author working today, he writes for grownups. Exiles in the Garden is another of his intricate, intellectually challenging character studies that trades flashy action for a psychologically astute investigation into the deepest recesses of public and private morality....Ward Just began his career as a journalist and that training is evident in his keen eye for detail and his ability to penetrate to the essence of his subjects' lives. In characteristic meditative style, he reveals how the choices of his flawed, complex characters resonate down through the decades. His latest novel is one more brick in an edifice of work that someday should be read by historians looking for insight into the world of modern American politics and contemporary statecraft." - Shelf Awareness
For a nation so besotted with politics, we have very few novelists who address the treacherous interface between public and private spheres, probing the implications of accountability. Ward Just is a distinguished exception…Just's novel addresses power, but not in its deployment. Rather, Exiles in the Garden seeks to understand the individual's abilityand willto make a full self-accounting and to act accordingly. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the unlived life, examined, yields a stark cautionary wisdom.
The New York Times
Few if any novelists have captured Washington politics with the astute insights of Just, who here casts his dispassionate eye on a man who comes to question whether one can achieve a well-lived life on the outskirts of political action. Born and bred to the political arena, Alec Malone, son of a powerhouse U.S. senator, becomes an outsider twice removed, first by choosing photography as his profession and then by turning down an assignment in Vietnam. Content with his wife Lucia, the daughter of a Czech refugee, Alec dislikes the neighborhood cocktail parties, where a cosmopolitan mix of émigrés and exiles makes Lucia aware of the cultural chasm running through her marriage. Alec is devastated when she leaves him and bemused when, much later, his daughter follows in Senator Malone's footsteps, though it's the sudden appearance of Lucia's long-lost father that provokes Alec to question the meaning of an existence that has avoided the barricades. Just writes with confidence and authority as he works through larger themes of politics, history, war and historical judgment. This intellectually rigorous narrative is absorbing, timely and very Washington. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Old men's memories of making history overshadow their children's less dramatic lives. A U.S. senator for 54 years, Kim Malone was, like his idol FDR, a liberal Democrat, a mover and shaker. Now Kim lies dying in a Virginia hospital, visited by his only child, Alec. His son disappointed Kim twice: by not following him into politics, and then, after becoming a well-regarded news photographer, by refusing an assignment in Vietnam. Despite these past disagreements, and their temperamental differences, father and son share a deep affection. Adopting different viewpoints, veteran political novelist Just (Forgetfulness, 2006, etc.) narrates with his trademark urbanity, moving from Kim's memories to those of Alec and his wife Lucia. Czech by origin, Swiss by upbringing, she too had an activist parent; her mother, a socialist, held salons in Zurich while the outdoorsy Lucia skied competitively until a severe accident changed her life. She was an au pair in the Washington home of the Swiss ambassador when she met Alec in the early 1960s. They married, had a daughter and bought a house in Georgetown. Then, over the fence, Lucia hears cocktail-party chatter from the Central European exiles of the title. It acts as a siren song for Lucia. She falls in love with Nikolas, a Hungarian professor/novelist, and they elope to Switzerland. Though devastated, Alec does not fight for her. He's an enigma, everyone agrees, and that's OK-so was Iago. But Othello's treacherous ensign was an enigma in action, while Alec is mired in passivity, a dull character in an unexamined marriage. A second old man restores some energy to this ragged story line. In a blatant contrivance, Lucia's long-disappeared father Andreshows up in a Washington boardinghouse. His experience as a partisan in Yugoslavia, fighting the fascists in World War II, bookends Kim's fights in the Senate; both men were committed to the struggle in a way Alec never managed to be. The least substantive of Just's recent novels. Author events in New York and Boston