In Kennedy's 10th novel, fledgling writer Sara Smythe has defied her parents' wishes, left Hartford, and begun a literary life in post-WWII New York. She lands a sought-after job at Life magazine and frequents parties in Greenwich Village hosted by her playwright brother, Eric. There, surrounded by Communists and artists, she meets Jack Malone, a Stars and Stripes journalist. The night they spend together upends Sara's plans and sends her, Jack, and Ericon a collision course with the repressive forces of the McCarthy era. The legacy of that night extends into the next generation, where Jack's daughter, Kate, is struggling to find her own identity in modern-day Manhattan, unaware of the forces that shaped her. Kennedy tells his epic tale with a keen eye and brisk pace, confidently sweeping through historic events and the lives of his somewhat thin characters, investing most of his energy on the winningly sincere love story. (Oct.)
“This weighty tome is as readable as the '50s bestsellers it channels. The prolific Kennedy, known mainly in the U.K. and France, deserves a wider readership in his native United States.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Kennedy tells his epic tale with a keen eye and brisk pace.... a winningly sincere love story.” —Publishers Weekly
“Kennedy vividly depicts the heady atmosphere of post–World War II New York City, the status of working women in the 1950s, the horrors of the McCarthy era, and the ways of the heart at any time. A romantic, sweeping read that will appeal to fans of women's and historical fiction.” —Library Journal
"An engrossing novel that transcends decades.... It's a spellbinding but tragic read that you should not miss." The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK)
Kennedy continues his successful reentry into the U.S. market (after Leaving the World) with this European best seller, a love story set in Manhattan and spanning the years following World War II. Sara Smythe, a promising young writer, is cajoled into attending her older brother's bohemian party in Greenwich Village. From across a crowded room, she spots a handsome man in uniform. What ensues is a dance of witty and flirtatious dialog (? la classic Spencer Tracy?Katharine Hepburn movies) between the patrician and wary Sara and the intelligent Brooklyn-born, Irish-Catholic U.S. Army journalist Jack Malone. Their attraction, instantaneous and electrifying, leads to a single night of passion, declarations of true love, and promises of daily letters before Jack ships out to Europe the next day. Although Sara faithfully writes to Jack, she never receives a response. Filled with grief, she finally gives up attempts to locate him and makes every effort to move on with her life. Verdict Kennedy vividly depicts the heady atmosphere of post?World War II New York City, the status of working women in the 1950s, the horrors of the McCarthy era, and the ways of the heart at any time. A romantic, sweeping read that will appeal to fans of women's and historical fiction.Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Institution Libs., Washington, DC
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Ex-pat Kennedy's stateside calling card is a ponderous tale of doomed love set in McCarthy-era Manhattan.
The story begins with Kate, a middle-aged ad woman and divorced single mom whose own mother has just died. At the funeral Kate notices a striking older woman, and begins to get urgent phone calls from a mysterious Sara Smythe. When she agrees to meet Sara she has no idea that this distinguished woman of letters has been following Kate's entire childhood since her father, Jack Malone, died when Kate was a toddler. The scene shifts to Sara's POV, beginning in the post–World War II years. Sara and her homosexual brother Eric have fled Hartford, Conn., and their stodgy WASP parents for Gotham, bent on artistic careers. After publishing a well-received short story, Sara nets a prime columnist spot on a weekly magazine. Eric flirts briefly with the Communist party, but after failing as a working-class dramatist, he becomes a lavishly paid writer on a primetime NBC variety show. Sara is almost over her one-night stand with Army sergeant Jack Malone—after they declared undying love, he abruptly cut off communication. When she runs into him in Central Park, the romance rekindles. Eric, however, makes no secret of his disgust for "Brooklyn mick" Jack. When Eric refuses to give up his former Party associates to HUAC, he's fired, blacklisted and shortly thereafter drinks himself to death. Devastated, Sara is still grateful for Jack's support until she learns that Jack, himself in fear of losing his PR job, ratted Eric out to the FBI. Back in the present, Kate learns that she has received an unexpected gift, not the least of which is an important lesson in forgiveness. Although an anodyne ending makes for a disappointing anticlimax, this weighty tome is as readable as the '50s bestsellers it channels.
The prolific Kennedy (Leaving the World, 2010, etc.), known mainly in the U.K. and France, deserves a wider readership in his native United States.