Fran Hawthorne

As the award-winning author of eight books and a veteran writer and editor for newspapers, magazines, and websites, Fran Hawthorne has spent her career exploring the intersection between business and social policy.

Back in 1985 she dug into the ways Wall Street buys business with campaign contributions, and she was one of the first to debunk the myth that socially responsible investing means lower profits. She has investigated diet drug fads, anti-aging “wonder” drugs, and the collapse of the American pension system.

Her books include Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love (Beacon Press, 2012); Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), and Pension Dumping (Bloomberg Press, 2008).

Ms. Hawthorne was selected as a contributor in fiction at the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont in 1991.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley, Ms. Hawthorne worked at Fortune, BusinessWeek, and the Record of Bergen County, NJ. She now writes regularly for the New York Times, Newsday, The Scientist, NY Journal of Books, and many other publications.

Book Reviews by Fran Hawthorne

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With her bestselling debut Everything I Never Told You and now her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng has indisputably proved that she is a master at mining the rel

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The award-winning Irish novelist Bernard MacLaverty is a master at revealing a universe in just a few words.

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Like most of the nine other novels by Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, The Red-Haired Woman is a story that personalizes political, cultural, and philosophical conflicts, especially east vs.

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Jill Shalvis can write a pretty good sex scene.

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The debut novel Lilli de Jong is almost a feminist version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, targeting the treatment of women in the 1880s rather than slaughterhouses in the early 2

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Reading Saints for All Occasions is like walking into the kitchen of the big Irish family at the center of this new novel by bestselling author J.

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“Buchanan writes with a sharp and original artist’s eye of her own.”

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The Mother’s Promise is a chick-lit tearjerker that nevertheless conveys with sympathy and some depth the stories of four Northern California women who face difficult health and family pro

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Georgia Hunter presumably loves her family and didn’t want to insult anyone when she set out to write a fictionalized account of how these well-to-do, assimilated Polish Jews survived the Holocaust

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“a novel that’s many cuts above its genre.”

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As the rare “lady doctor” at a small town clinic in Communist Hungary in 1960 and an ardent partisan who helped her father smuggle anti-Nazi pamphlets during World War Two, when she was a student,

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The Nix is an engrossing and impressively researched novel. . . .  laudable . . .”

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The new novel The Unseen World starts out like the 2014 bestseller We Are Not Ourselves, as the haunting story of a brilliant scientist who develops early-onset Alzheimer’s diseas

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In many ways, the debut novel Home Field resembles the high-school football games at the center of the story: Sometimes white-knuckle dramatic, sometimes too slow, an explosion of smells a

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As a veteran movie and television producer, Tracy Barone knows how to tell a story on screens. Her debut novel Happy Family proves that she can also steer an engrossing plot in print.

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There have been novels about oil (Giant by Edna Ferber), coal strip-mining (Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom), and traditional coal mining (Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh).

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Sprawling across more than 500 pages, the new novel Three-Martini Lunch captures the excesses as well as the inhibitions of New York City in 1958, from the eponymous meals of the big Manha

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The 240 pages of Among the Dead and Dreaming are crammed with 18 narrators, eight of them dead, including one fetus, plus about 10 other major characters.

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When Kyung Cho, an untenured biology professor, turns the knob on the front door of his parents’ “stunning Queen Anne” house in a wealthy Boston suburb, he is surprised that it’s unlocked.

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The Other Me is a pleasure to read, with a style that moves as smoothly as an Acela train and a page-turning plot.

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The simple sentences and unspoken words of My Name Is Lucy Barton are deceptive.

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It is not a promising sign when a book that claims to be a literary novel begins smack in the middle of a sex scene.

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Frank McAllister, a wealthy South African-born investor who has spent his adult life in London, takes languid drives through the richly varied countryside of the native land that he clearly loves.

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Of course no one should expect chick-lit or mom-lit to be well written.

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Simply put, Paradise City is a good, old-fashioned read.

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Bird is only 176 pages, but it is not a quick read.

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Bestselling novelist B. A. Shapiro clearly admires Abstract Expressionist art.

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"It shows what happens when twentysomethings grow up."

The Clasp is definitely several rungs above the typical twentysomethings-with-clever-quips debut.

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A small-time gangster who has disappeared and may be dead. Hasidic folk tales. A yarmulke-wearing Oberlin College student expelled for drug dealing. Hedge-fund fraud.

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There are novels that force a reviewer to remember: It’s a big wide world and everyone has different tastes. Not every reader likes the same books I do. Fair enough.

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Can a narrator with a breezy stream of quips effectively tell the story of how her marriage fell apart after her best friend died in a spectacular car accident?

For a while.

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A priceless Cezanne, the centerpiece of a special exhibition at a prestigious San Francisco art museum, is discovered to be a forgery.

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“powerful.”

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Early in this novel, when Poxl West—the putative author of this supposed World War II memoir—is giving a book reading, an audience member asks, “Mr.

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Izabella Rae Haywood, teenage heroine of What the Waves Know, has lost her words. She has not spoken in eight years, ever since her father disappeared on her sixth birthday.

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“the effort of reading The Wall will enlarge our understanding [of the Holocaust and its aftermath].”

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“Unfortunately, there are too many horrors in the world, and we have become too numbed by traditional storytelling. We need books like this one to slap us in the face.”

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“. . . unfortunately, those stories are nowhere near finished.”

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“Despite its sometimes underwhelmingly brief prose, Beauty is one of the better fiction offerings for readers who want an easy read that also offers some insight into the way busin

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“. . .

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“This is not a memoir. It is a political polemic. . . . the biggest problem is Soueif’s blind devotion.

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Gwen Florio knows how to tell a story. Not only can she construct a gripping murder mystery, but she also can relate it in original and striking—if sometimes overdone—language.

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“. . . a unique and prodigious talent.”

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Can the publishing industry please, please declare a moratorium on financial thrillers written by business journalists or ex-Wall Street insiders in which the hero (never heroine) is a you

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“. . . a harmless enough read for a holiday vacation.”

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“Mark Haddon is a talented novelist who knows how to create sympathetic, fallible, fumbling, well meaning, real characters . . .”

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“. . . channeling Michael Lewis sets a pretty high bar, and the attempt makes Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic more fun to read than most financial books.”

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“The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present is definitely one book that it is quite all right to skim.”

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“Ms. Herz indeed proves her point about ‘benign masochism.’ We are disgusted by disgust. And we can’t stop reading about it.”

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“. . . the big problem is the second requirement for retelling a myth: Why bother?

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“The writing in Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes is sharp and original throughout most of the book, with skillful intercuttings of first- and third- person viewpoints.”

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“Perhaps putting The Woman Who Heard Color in the form of a romance novel will draw a larger audience.

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“Liberals, conservatives, and anyone else with a passionate point of view all need to learn to laugh at themselves. The B.S. of A. could be a good start . . .”

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Brand Failures is the rare business book that’s actually a fun read for nonbusiness people.

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It might seem impossible to turn the concept of Al Qaeda getting nuclear weapons into a boring novel. But Bob Graham manages to do just that.

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Hedge fund managers don’t waste time—time is money—so this review won’t, either.

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What can a reader say about a page-turner with laughably stock characters, a few unusual touches, and pedestrian prose—all written by a real-life hero?

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In Never Say Die, author Susan Jacoby recalls waiting at a New York City bus stop one frigid December day “when an old woman, who appeared to be in her eighties and was hunched over and cr

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The novel Anna Karenina may have been analyzed from every literary and historical viewpoint imaginable, but has anyone calculated how much richer Anna would have been if she’d dumped her h

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A good writer can make any scenario dramatic—even short-selling the summer electricity market in Texas in 2005.

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There are many ways to define “kosher.” The Hebrew root of the word simply means fit—food that is fitting for Jews to eat.

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For the better part of this year, newspapers, magazines, the blogosphere, radio, TV, and bookstores have been filled with analyses of how President Obama squandered his initial popularity by pushin

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Ian Bremmer ought to have an easy time proving his basic premise: “only genuine free markets can generate broad, sustainable, long-term prosperity.” Yet he fails.

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Erika Meyer sure found an unusual focal point for her novel Strangers in America.

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Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen obviously hurried to get Mad as Hell on the market before the November midterm elections. They should have waited.

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I’m a sucker for Rashomon-style novels that tell the same tale from multiple viewpoints. Colum McCann does it particularly well in Let the Great World Spin.