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Where the God of Love Hangs Out

by Amy Bloom |

People PICK

STORIES

REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

“It seems to me that every writer has only one subject,” Amy Bloom has said. “Whether I like it or not, my subject is love.” In her indelible new collection, that four-letter word is a double-edged sword. A middle-aged man and woman, married to others, fall in love; their beautifully rendered joy equals (or does it?) the anguish that follows. Stunned with grief at the loss of her husband, another woman in a series of interlinked stories allows herself to be seduced by her young stepson, with generation-spanning repercussions. The connected tales here hit harder than the stand-alones: mapping passion’s fallout takes time. Throughout, though, Bloom illuminates the way our affections define us, old and young, for better or worse. Where does the god of love hang out? He’s everywhere.

Star

by Peter Biskind |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

BIOGRAPHY

How many celeb bios manage to be both exhaustive film treatises and so salacious you may never look at some Hollywood icons the same way again? Biskind has done it, but then he’s picked the right subject. An admirer of Warren Beatty’s work, the onetime Premiere editor is even more in awe of his sexual prowess, which we learn about in prodigious detail. Before marrying Annette Bening, Beatty bedded a Who’s Who of Hollywood, from Joan Collins to Madonna; Collins said he could and did have sex four or five times a day. Hypochondriacal, ruthlessly ambitious and a master manipulator, Beatty had, according to Biskind, an unsurpassed charisma: “When I was in his presence I felt … as if I were a better person because Warren Beatty liked me, or pretended he did.” By the end of Star we’re there too, not exactly liking Beatty but finding him irresistible nonetheless.

Wench

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

This debut novel is a heartbreaker, full of understated tragedy and lyrical prose. Told through Lizzie, one of four slave “mistresses” who accompany their owners to a resort in the free state of Ohio in the mid-1800s, the story follows the women as they bond over shared burdens and life changes. When two of the four make a break for free-dom, Lizzie confronts the ambivalence that prevents her from trying to leave her master—who’s also the father of her two children. Perkins-Valdez has woven a devastatingly beautiful account of a cruel past.

Not My Daughter

by Barbara Delinsky |

REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL

NOVEL

Calling to mind an ’08 news story about 17 girls thought to have made a pregnancy “pact,” this novel features three Maine teens who blithely orchestrate getting pregnant together. Refusing to name the fathers or to consider abortion or adoption, they are at once perplexing and heartbreaking—especially to their own mothers, who become primary characters. As the town erupts in outrage, the girls’ moms grapple with anger, sorrow and the nagging question: Where did I fail my daughter? It’s a topical tale that resonates with timeless emotion.