By Sue Corbett Judith Newman Marisa Laudadio
August 06, 2007 12:00 PM

A Glorious End for the Potter Books

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
by J. K. Rowling |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

CRITIC’S CHOICE

NOVEL

Rowling doesn’t want anyone spoiling the plot of her wildly successful epic, but she’s quite the tease herself, having whipped readers into an anxious frenzy by dropping hints about characters biting the dust in Deathly Hallows. And boy, do they ever. The first death comes in chapter one, and the final body count is high. Harry is in peril from the beginning, with Death Eaters swarming the skies as he’s about to turn 17. The plot careens nearly nonstop from one scrape to the next—it may be some of the most exhausting fiction ever put to page. But it’s also exhilarating, and a must-read for those with nagging questions about Snape’s true nature, Dumbledore’s childhood and all else Hogwartian. There are surprising revelations. Dudley Dursley, for instance, proves himself human: Seeing Harry for presumably the last time, he thanks him for saving his life. In the end, there is the expected clash of titanic proportions and an epilogue set in the future that, mercifully, leaves us knowing the fate of some witches and wizards we’ve come to love. Worth the wait? It is indeed.

Uncommon Arrangements
by Katie Roiphe |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

NON-FICTION

How did they have the nerve? That is just one of the questions raised in this riveting look at the unconventional unions of seven London literary couples in the early 1900s—but it’s a good one. For those who think the pleasant blandness of monogamy is key to marital contentment, Roiphe’s couples—including Clive and Vanessa Bell and the philandering H.G. Wells and his wife—make us think again. Maybe the soul needs storms as well as sunshine. But if most of these pairs were, as Wells put it, “in revolt against the… sexual codes of the day,” they were still children of Victorians, pulled by propriety. And it is here Roiphe does a masterful job, explicating often contradictory, outrageous behavior. Strange but true: This account of intellectuals and their lofty couplings may be the year’s best beach read.

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