Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


A MONITOR GUIDE TO THE BESTSELLERS

January 11, 2001



PRODIGAL SUMMER, by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperCollins, $26

Skip to next paragraph

The stories of three women living alone in southern Appalachia are wound together in this celebration of the erotic earth. In their separate settings, they struggle against a culture that denigrates them for not being "natural ladies," but through nature, they each find happiness. Unfortunately, among the fascinating ecology lessons and Kingsolver's typically wonderful dialogue is some truly syrupy debris. But the two oldest characters present the most refreshing love affair of the year. (464 pp.) (Reviewed Oct. 19) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed The New York Times: mixed Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Selected reviews (Publisher's Weekly): favorable Audio available

THE CONSTANT GARDNER, by John le Carre, Scribner, $28

When a beautiful philanthropist is found gruesomely murdered in a remote area of Africa, her husband takes up her crusade against drug companies that are using Africa as a petri dish for experimental medicines. Soon, he's being tracked by the British police, the Foriegn Office, and a giant pharmeaceutical company that doesn't mind making a killing to make a killing. This is a smart novel laced with concern about how the world's most profitable industry treats the world's poorest people. (480 pp.) (Reviewed Dec. 7) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: unfavorable Kirkus Review of Books: mixed Selected reviews (The Washington Post): favorable Audio available

THE BLIND ASSASSIN, by Margaret Atwood, Doubleday, $26

Margaret Atwood is the literary world's greatest stunt woman. This year's Booker Prize winner is a historical mystery about an old woman who has spent her life in the shadow of her sister Laura, a one-book novelist who committed suicide 50 years ago and attained cult-hero status. Told in a wonderfully complex narrative, the story blends early 20th-century Canadian history with a science-fiction tale of intergalactic warfare on Zycron, a fictional planet from Laura's noir book. (400 pp.) (Reviewed Aug. 31) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Selected reviews (The Boston Globe): mixed Audio available

SHOPGIRL, by Steve Martin, Hyperion, $17.95

"Shopgirl" is the tender story of Mirabelle, a saleswoman in downtown L.A. She is a wallflower - shy, lonely, and naive. Enter Ray Porter, a lonely millionaire intrigued by her disarming personality - a fresh breath in the city of angels. When their relationship ends, Mirabelle must again battle loneliness, this time armed with courage and strength - and a plan to quit her job and become an artist. Martin's first novella is beautifully written, with great wit and insight into the struggles of the human heart. (130 pp.) By Stuart S. Cox Jr.

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Selected reviews (The Wall Street Journal): mixed Audio available

THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON, by Tom Clancy, Putnam, $28.95

What happens when the world's most populous nation borders one with the world's largest undeveloped landmass? Might it be war? Tom Clancy has put together another of his incredible geopolitical thrillers. This time the US finds itself defending the declining Russian state against an expanding Chinese one. One flaw: Tom, it used to be a long kiss was hard to find in your novels. Do we need to know all the details that go on in the bedrooms of spies? Write for your readers, not movie directors. (1,028 pp.) By Jim Bencivenga

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: mixed Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Selected reviews (The Washington Post): favorable Audio available