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Beth boards a cruise ship with her boyfriend, Derek, and is almost immediately interrupted by a stranger showing her a magic trick. But is he really a stranger? Who's tricking whom? And who is really carrying the mysterious, titular blue book? Enigmatic and sensual, Kennedy's latest novel is full of outright lies and various forms of deception and misdirection. Kennedy deftly weaves an intricate tale, cleverly leading the reader's attention back and forth in the past and present until the end, when she reveals a kernel of truth: a secret of heartbreaking loss linking Beth and the stranger, Arthur, a psychic medium who specializes in communicating with strangers' departed loved ones. In stream-of-consciousness passages, Kennedy's characters reveal their deepest, most intimate thoughts and feelings, which are in sharp contrast to the halting, inarticulate conversations that happen outside their internal monologues. At its heart, this bracing novel is an exploration of the secret feelings we keep from each other and ourselves, the havoc that dishonesty can wreak on a life, and the sometimes futile way we grasp at redemption.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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Kennedy's deeply original novel, her 11th work of fiction (after What Becomes), nominated for the Orange Prize, is set on a luxury cruise from England to New York. Beth is on the ship with her boyfriend, Derek, who she suspects will propose. When Derek gets sea sick and is confined to their cabin for most of the trip, one of the first clues that something is amiss is that Beth wants him to be ill, so that she can be free to roam, because her ex-lover, Arthur, is on the ship. But her relationship with Arthur was far from ordinary; the two conned people into thinking that the pair could contact the spirits of the dead. Beth eventually left their medium act because she and Arthur "were earning a living out of it, turning big. I couldn't deal with that." Arthur continued but, fraught with guilt, gave much of the spoils to charity. Kennedy circles the awful truth of the relationship between Beth and Arthur in vividly imagined scenes, accompanied by Beth's internal commentary, which can both complement the external action and bog it down in too-clever self-indulgence. But this riddle of a book, from a playful and intelligent writer, is worth a read. Agent: Antony Harwood, the Antony Harwood Literary Agency (U.K.). (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.