FRANZ LISZT

VOL. III, THE FINAL YEARS, 1861-1886

Third and final hefty volume on the larger-than-life Romantic composer/pianist (preceded by Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years, 18111848, 1983, and Franz Liszt: The Weimar Years, 18481861, 1989). Anyone looking for a nonpartisan view of Liszt should check their hat at the door; this is a celebration of a man and his work, as thorough and complete as one could hope. It covers Liszt's declining years, so there are fewer achievements and more tragedy, including his thwarted marriage plans to the eccentric Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein; his decision to become a priest (much to the shock and amusement of those who recalled his younger years); and his steady decline into illness and blindness. Most upsetting was his daughter Cosima's decision to abandon her husband (the noted conductor Hans von BÅlow) and run off with the composer Richard Wagner. Liszt had been a mentor to both men in their early years and felt personally responsible for the tragedy. Liszt led a footloose existence, dividing his time between Italy (where he practiced his religious life), Weimar (where he continued to teach music), and his native Hungary. Walker is a die-hard Lisztomaniac, often apologizing for the composer's behavior and never encountering a piece of music he doesn't like. Was Liszt an alcoholic? Perhaps, Walker thinks, but alcohol seemed to impair ``neither his piano-playing nor his conversation.'' Did Liszt serve as a proper role model for his many students? Walker admits he may have introduced a few to the vices of cognac and cigars, and may even have been a little too friendly with the younger females. Was he an anti-Semite, as the scandalous 1881 revision of his work on Bohemian music seemed to imply? Walker blames this on the meddling hands of Princess Carolyne, freeing Liszt of this stain. Thorough, engaging, if slightly rose-colored account of the composer's later years. (15 b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: April 24, 1996

ISBN: 0-394-52542-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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