THE PIG DID IT | Kirkus Reviews

A preposterous ending squanders some readerly goodwill, but this is—in its loose-limbed, playful, gab-o’-the-Irish...

READ REVIEW

THE PIG DID IT

Caldwell’s latest novel (Bread for the Baker’s Child, 2001, etc.) is a fizzy West Ireland farce featuring a lovelorn American, a pig and a handyman’s skeleton—the first book in a projected “Pig trilogy.”

Aaron McCloud has come to Ireland to wallow in a romantic disappointment. On his way to the house occupied by an aunt who’s a successful writer (she shamelessly raids and revamps literary classics), he encounters a pig on the side of a road. Before he can devote himself to a lonely routine of mooning lamentation, the pig adopts him and refuses to leave. The pig subsequently escapes the aunt's shed, roots up her vegetable patch and unearths a shallow grave containing the remains of Declan Tovey, his aunt’s lover. The opening is glib and languid, but those bones—exhumed, disarticulated, rearranged, laid in state, cleaned, wrapped, waked over, hidden in a secret passage, and so forth—jolt the book to life. The middle section is a lively, irresistible farce. To Aaron’s dismay, Aunt Kitty and her equally feisty friend/rival, Lolly, refuse to allow police meddling. And there’s poor suffering Sweeney, a man obliged to carry on a bitter family feud with the McClouds at the same time he carries a terrible torch for Kitty—whom he thinks the guilty party. Kitty suspects Lolly; Lolly points the finger at Sweeney. Aaron lurches from theory to theory.

A preposterous ending squanders some readerly goodwill, but this is—in its loose-limbed, playful, gab-o’-the-Irish way—mostly a pleasure.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-8832-8529-6

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Delphinium

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Print the bumper sticker—"I'd Rather Be Living in an Elin Hilderbrand Novel."

WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE

Back to St. John with the Steele family, whose tragic loss and horrifying discovery have yielded an exciting new life.

In Winter in Paradise (2018), Hilderbrand introduced Midwestern magazine editor Irene Steele and her adult sons, Baker and Cash, then swept them off to the island of St. John after paterfamilias Russell Steele was killed in a helicopter crash with his secret mistress, leaving a preteen love child and a spectacular villa. While the first volume left a lot up in the air about Russell’s dubious business dealings and the manner of his death, this installment fills in many of the blanks. All three Steeles made new friends during their unexpected visit to the island in January, and now that’s resulted in job offers for Irene and Cash and the promise of new love for single dad Baker. Why not move to St. John and into the empty villa? Mother, sons, and grandson do just that. Both the dead mistress’s diary and a cadre of FBI agents begin to provide answers to the questions left dangling in Volume 1, and romantic prospects unfold for all three Steeles. Nevertheless, as a wise person once said, shit happens, combusting the family’s prospects and leading to a cliffhanger ending. On the way, there will be luscious island atmosphere, cute sundresses, frozen drinks, “slender baguette sandwiches with duck, arugula and fig jam,” lemongrass sugar cookies, and numerous bottles of both Krug and Dom Pérignon, the latter served by a wiseass who offers one of his trademark tasting notes: “This storied bubbly has notes of Canadian pennies, your dad’s Members Only jacket, and…‘We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together.’ ” You'll be counting the days until you can return to the Virgin Islands with these characters in the concluding volume of the trilogy.

Print the bumper sticker—"I'd Rather Be Living in an Elin Hilderbrand Novel."

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-43557-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more