The French Lieutenant’s Woman

John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman is the sort of book that would-be novelists with beer and beards discuss in existential terms. The woman of the title is Sarah Woodruff, a young English woman enamored of and jilted in 1867 by a Frenchman, whose whore locals in Lyme Regis assume her to be. Charles Smithson, […]

The Arrangement: an Elia Kazan production in novel form

The Arrangement is The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit without any clothes on. Elia Kazan’s story gets off to a fast and sordid start. The Arrangement: A Novel by Elia Kazan Stein and Day, 1967, 544 p. My grade: C+. “Indispensible Eddie” Anderson, an advertising executive (also known as Evans Arness, muckraking magazine writer, […]

Old Wine and New Is Pleasure for Mature Palates

Warwick Deeping’s Old Wine and New is an unexpected and rather extraordinary tale about the making of a novelist in the years between the First and Second World Wars. Timid, gentle to a fault, scarcely able to make himself a cuppa, Spenser Scarsdale is as unlikely a hero as a protagonist can be. He blunders […]

A White Bird Flying Lets Your Spirits Soar

A White Bird Flying is formulaic, predictable, and utterly enchanting. Laura Deal is a sweet girl, but odd. A keen observer of life in Cedartown, Nebraska, she’s too young and innocent to understand much of what she sees. Readers more mature than Laura draw their own conclusions. After the death of her grandmother, who encouraged […]

Young Man of Manhattan, Grow Up!

In Young Man of Manhattan, Katherine Brush shows how a talented writer can make a scruffy boy-meets-girl plot sparkle. The boy in the story is a young sportswriter, Toby McLean. The girl is Ann Vaughn, a film reporter for another newspaper. Both are still tied to the apron strings of their upbringing. In Toby’s case […]

The Disenchanted shows nothing destroys like success

Shep Stearns  is thrilled when studio mogul Victor Milgrim pairs him with his hero, Pulitzer-winning novelist Manley Halliday, to turn Shep’s screenplay concept into a Hollywood blockbuster. Halliday hasn’t produced a novel in years, is over his eyebrows in debt, diabetic, and hanging on to sobriety by his fingernails. Shep doesn’t know any of that. […]