Posts Tagged Kathleen Kent

book review: The Outcasts

the outcasts

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent. Publisher: Little, Brown (2013). Historical Fiction. Hardcover. 326 pages. ISBN 9780316206129.

Two stories intertwine on the Gulf Coast during the 19th Century. After she escapes a Texas brothel where she’d been held prisoner, Lucinda Carter travels south to meet her outlaw lover a merciless, violent man who has a plan to make them rich. At the same time Nate Cannon, a Texas policeman and two veteran rangers crisscross the state tracking a man who indiscriminately killed men, women and children who blocked his greedy intents in any manner.

The novel’s cover drew me in. Showing a woman’s back dressed in petticoat and pearls, holding a gun in her nail-polished hands. Just wonderful.

Nate’s a horse whisperer which adds a special quality to this Western. Author Kathleen Kent gives the reader this exemplary police officer– a particularly sensitive man who writes his wife frequent letters updating her on their quest. He cares deeply for horses and treats them well. He’s focused on getting the ruthless guy. As for Lucinda it’s hard not to feel some empathy toward her for her difficult past despite her poor choices. She’s clinging to a relationship with an awful, undeserving man. What does Lucinda see in her lover? He’s charming but a brutal, dishonest trickster. Eventually Lucinda and Nate’s paths cross. Lucinda hopes for a new life and Nate Cannon will stop at nothing to arrest this awful man before he hurts anyone else. Kent describes Texas and the plains quite beautifully. The Outcasts is an intriguing Western that gets quite bloody and horrific at times.

RATING: ***/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Hachette Book Group.

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A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan [Knopf]
–Egan writes with impressive attention to detail and possesses the ability to craft a unique, humorous and riveting portrait of two people invested in the challenging and ever-changing music industry.

The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell [Permanent Press]
–Through lyrical prose and stimulating descriptions, Campbell deftly transports the reader to Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico. She propels us inside an artist’s mind and twists a complex morality tale.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender [Doubleday]
–Bender writes exquisitely. The fairy-tale magic realism propelling this novel is charming and irresistible.

Solar by Ian McEwan [Nan A. Talese]
–crazy story told with McEwan’s brilliant style [simultaneously amusing and uncomfortable] about a physicist working with alternative energy sources including wind power and solar

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black [Random House]
–exquisitely crafted, eclectic collection of short stories

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris [Little, Brown and Company]
–Ferraris illuminates the varying levels of religious devotion and the status of women in Saudi Arabia from several viewpoints. It contains plenty of twists and thought-provoking cultural situations.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart [Random House]
–Shteyngart brilliantly describes a dystopian future with fantastically elaborate detail through emails, IM exchanges and diary entries.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper [Plume]
–Tropper has quickly become one of my favorite writers for his sensitive and often hilarious insight on relationships.

Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet [Permanent Press]
–beautifully crafted a complex, layered story about the abuse of a household servant in Kuwait. Moving from character to character and each individual story, Hobbet provides a rich background about life in Kuwait and the complex structure of the Middle East where class divisions remain strong, Americans and British are simultaneously despised and coveted, arcane laws and customs remain in place, yet Kuwait, compared to other Arab nations appears modern.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow [Algonquin Books]
–provocative and creative coming-of-age in the 1980s story. Blue-eyed, mocha-skinned Rachel is the daughter of a black GI-father and a Danish mother. The sole survivor of a Chicago rooftop tragedy, the 12-year-old ends up at her boozing and opinionated grandmother’s house in Portland, Ore.

Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones [Pamela Dorman Books]
–Jones has created a rousing feminist character in Emily. She’s outspoken and likely to shun conventionality. Emily’s a bit ahead of her time. Women are supposed to be married off by a certain age and then be relegated to the kitchen and drawing room, only to come out for parties and entertaining. And to be an artist at this time? It’s rather unusual and Emily certainly meets those who doubt her talents and capability to make it out there on her own, including her dear cousin William.

How to Survive a Natural Disaster by Margaret Hawkins [Permanent Press]
–astute family drama filled with betrayal, envy, lies, discord, tragedy and forgiveness. It packs a real punch and will stay with you for days after you finish its last page.

The Wolves of Andoverr by Kathleen Kent [Reagan Arthur]
–I really liked this novel for a number of reasons. It provides a detailed, rich description of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts. Smallpox travels through the town and I’m fascinated by infectious disease and how it’s contained. Kent takes the reader to England for its civil war. And the wolves? There are two kinds of wolves in this novel and they are sneaky and vicious.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin [Grand Central]
–Martin delves into the complicated New York art world and particularly into the life of art dealer Lucy Yeager. Like an Edith Wharton novel, this glitzy, posh scene has its nuanced participants and sinister underbelly.

Something Redby Jennifer Gilmore [Scribner]
–Gilmore instills equal parts cheerfulness and solemnity throughout this meditative second novel. It’s a superb reflection on the connection between external events and our psyches.

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book review: The Wolves of Andover

Title: The Wolves of Andover
Author: Kathleen Kent
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (November 8, 2010)
Category: historical fiction
Rating: A

She looked at him wonderingly and at length, remembering other women’s acquiescence to an awkward suitor’s prologue to marriage: girlish smiles and laughter following some artless boy’s long-limbed shuffling and shy proposals. In all her imaginings of a sober and practical union, the breeding of children, and the laboring drudgery of a woman’s sphere, she had never dared hope for the promise of this; that a man would take her knowingly for all her mannish, off-putting certitudes and canny will, her prickly refusals to adhere to womanly scrapings, her ferocious and ill-tempered nature.

In The Wolves of Andover, it’s 17th century Massachusetts and 23-year-old Martha Allen moves to Andover to help her cousin take care of the household and children. There she meets hired hand Thomas Carrier who’s rumored to have had a major role in the murder of Charles I in England. The pair complements each other. Martha Allen certainly stands apart for this time as an outspoken, bold woman who doesn’t apologize for her behaviors and thoughts. It’s refreshing. Thomas Carrier possesses physical strength and strong convictions. He has an unusual past that slowly unfolds as Martha spends more time with him. The Wolves of Andover serves as a prequel to author Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter although I didn’t even realize it until I had gotten about one-third of the way through. Kent writes so skillfully that it doesn’t matter which order you read the novels.

I really liked The Wolves of Andover for a number of reasons. It provides a detailed, rich description of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts. Smallpox travels through the town and I’m fascinated by infectious disease and how it’s contained. Kent takes the reader to England for its civil war. And the wolves? There are two kinds of wolves in this novel and they are sneaky and vicious. Kent clearly knows how to craft a scintillating work of historical fiction. Plenty of research, historical content and intriguing characters and a mysterious plot propel The Wolves of Andover.

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