A compelling and disturbing reminder to heed those inner warning lights.

TERRIBLE OMENS

HAPPINESS IS THE OTHER WAY

A memoir presents an “autopsy” of a marriage that was doomed from the start.

Gray (Madame Blavatsky’s Victorian Nightmares, 2017, etc.) met Darren during orientation at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa. She was from Florida, he from Verona, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. For her, it was indifference at first sight. Not so for him. It took almost four months of persistence for Darren to get the author to start dating him seriously. Three months later, they were engaged. He took her home for Christmas to meet his parents and sister. That would have been a good time for Gray to call it quits. Future mother-in-law Charlene welcomed the news of their engagement with tears and profanities. Future sister-in-law Krystal “stalked around the house like a feral cat.” Misgivings notwithstanding, the couple were married about a year before graduation and returned to Iowa following the wedding. After graduation, they made their first mistake. They came back to the Pittsburgh area and moved in with Darren’s parents. Over the next few months, as they searched for chiropractic jobs, the author channeled her rage at Charlene’s constant snipes and general hostility into a journal. She left that journal behind, tucked in a drawer beneath her underwear, when the couple went to North Carolina to visit Gray’s parents. Charlene found the journal and called Darren in a crazed, vituperative rage. The couple decided to move to North Carolina. In prose overflowing with a healthy dose of sarcastic humor, considerable anger, and an ample supply of recriminations (self- and otherwise), Gray chronicles the 15 mostly dysfunctional years they spent together, from the time they met until they parted. In her engrossing, sharp-edged book, the author—who sometimes overindulges in cathartic expletives—shows that abuse comes in many forms. While Gray details several occurrences of physical violence, she recalls that she held on to the marriage through countless incidents of alcohol-infused verbal aggression. According to the author, Darren’s simpering acquiescence to Charlene—who vociferously ruled her family with a nasty iron fist—was in stark contrast to his demeaning and controlling behavior toward Gray. Readers will find themselves frequently yelling at her, “Get out now!”  

A compelling and disturbing reminder to heed those inner warning lights.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-937258-20-7

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Thinktorium, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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