A delightful romp that should appeal to those who appreciate the savvier realms of chick lit.

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ALL ROADS LEAD TO AUSTEN

A YEAR-LONG JOURNEY WITH JANE

How successfully does the world of Jane Austen translate into Spanish? One intrepid author finds out in this travel memoir/literary exploration.

On sabbatical, Austen devotee Smith (Writing and Literature/Univ. of the Pacific) embarked on a project to discuss Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility and Emma with reading groups in Latin America. Displaying the good cheer and wry humor befitting an Austenite (as opposed to, say, an Emily Brontë or George Eliot enthusiast), she plunged into Spanish immersion classes in Guatemala, then set off for a romantic fling and the first of several reading adventures in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Smith was happy to discover that Austen’s genteel 19th-century English setting and formal narrative style proved to be relatable to her eager readers: Nearly all of them recognized their own lives in the plots and affirmed that issues of gender, class and familial obligation transcend era and locale. Smith ably captures the lively, often heated, tone of these literary gatherings and delves into the unique characteristics of each country, showcasing an Ecuadorean park teeming with iguanas, a multi-block stretch of Argentinean bookshops, and a tranquil Chilean monastery complete with its own on-site rooster. While the reading-group discussions tend to blur together by the end, Smith remains an engaging narrator throughout. A reader would need to possess either a truly cold heart or a pathological aversion to Austen to begrudge her the swoon-worthy happy ending to her tale.

A delightful romp that should appeal to those who appreciate the savvier realms of chick lit.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6585-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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