Interesting tittle-tattle for royal watchers.

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WALLIS IN LOVE

THE UNTOLD LIFE OF THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR, THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED THE MONARCHY

The royal and celebrity biographer rehashes the tale of Wallis Simpson (1896-1986) and King Edward VIII (1894-1972), offering just a few new tidbits.

A young woman sets her cap for a man who can give her everything she wants. When he gives up the very thing she wants, she’s stuck with him. Morton (17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History, 2015, etc.) does his best to spice up the familiar story, accepting Wallis’ suggestion that her first two marriages were never consummated. She had a well-known difficulty sticking to the truth. If that were the case, in the days when divorce was not accepted, both marriages would have been eligible for annulment. In his thorough yet frothy narrative, Morton digs into the diaries, letters, and news accounts of friends whose words easily refute Wallis’ self-portrait. His best sources are Katherine and Herman Rogers, friends of the king; Wallis depended on them to back her up, to hide her, and to help lick her mostly self-inflicted wounds. Truer friends could not be found, and she used them as she used everyone she knew. Wallis was seemingly the world’s biggest tease, jealous, possessive, needy, and vindictive; she had a sharp tongue, wild temper, and cruel streak that dominated every man she met. The author effectively shows the king’s true colors. He was a man who never wanted to reign, a playboy puppy who trailed after Wallis begging for affection. The best part of the book deals with the aftermath of the abdication. Wallis never got her grand wedding, and Edward was cut off from pretty much everything and everyone British. One can easily project what sort of life they lived and the pathetic ends they met.

Interesting tittle-tattle for royal watchers.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-6697-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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