April 05, 2010 12:00 PM

Paul and Me

by A.E. Hotchner |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

MEMOIR

This humorous and heartfelt collection of stories about Paul Newman by his lifelong bud and business partner reveals a side of the late star that no one else could: the anticelebrity, a guy’s guy whose passions ran towards cold beer, fast cars, fishing and practical jokes. (Director Otto Preminger once required first aid after Newman tossed a life-size mannequin of himself off a balcony during a shoot.) Oh, and then there was Newman’s pride in his own salad dressing, a bit of domestic vanity that launched Newman’s Own, one of the great philanthropic success stories of the past few decades. (Hotchner calls their unlikely venture, begun because Newman had gotten sick of acting, “a triumph of irresponsibility over reason.”) Readers hankering for celebrity dish can look elsewhere, and Hotchner is clearly uncomfortable with deep emotion. (His last words to his dying friend: “I’ll be in touch.”) But Hotchner’s affectionate portrayal of a “splendid man” truly happiest not on a movie set but in a boat or hanging out at his camp for cancer-stricken-children-an American icon who saw himself as anything but-can bring you to tears.

Love in Mid Air

by Kim Wright |

REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

NOVEL

If you’ve ever been charmed by an attentive stranger on a plane-or dreamed about it-here’s the book for you. Stuck in a moribund marriage to a Charlotte, N.C. , dentist, Elyse Bearden falls for her seatmate on a flight from Phoenix. They start an affair (though not, despite the title, before they’ve landed), and Elyse must decide, with help from a coterie of pals in varying states of marital torpor themselves, whether to upend her life. Wright understands female friendships: the interplay of love and envy, the way one woman’s change of fortune can threaten the group’s equilibrium. Astute and engrossing, this debut is a treat.

The Mapping of Love and Death

by Jacqueline Winspear|

REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO

MYSTERY

In this compelling seventh mystery starring Maisie Dobbs, the detective-who suffered shell-shock during the Great War-investigates a cartographer’s murder. The book also plumbs her intriguing psyche. Decoding maps for her case, she sighs, “I wish I had one for life.”

Caught

by Harlan Coben |

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

THRILLER

Journalist Wendy Tynes has made her reputation building sting operations that capture men who pursue underage girls. Dan Mercer looks like just another catch, but when he’s exonerated and then gunned down in front of Wendy, she must reexamine a case more complex than she’d imagined. Caught is a clever thriller in which the line between good and bad is unrecognizably-and fascinatingly-blurred.

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