Rich portraits of the sisters—and of the constraints and rewards of Victorian life. (b&w photos, not seen)

READ REVIEW

FANNY & ADELAIDE

THE LIVES OF THE REMARKABLE KEMBLE SISTERS

Colorful adventures of two scions of a 19th-century English theatrical family.

Actress Fanny Kemble and her sister, Adelaide (a well-known opera singer), were the daughters of Charles Kemble, who helped launch London’s Covent Garden Theater. The legendary actress Sarah Siddons was their aunt. Although Fanny’s life has been much written about, her sister’s adventures are less famous. With Adelaide’s newly public letters as a basis, Blainey (Immortal Boy, not reviewed) has framed this story as a tale of two sisters whose lives were the stuff of the rousing melodramas popular during their lifetimes. Fanny, forced onto the stage to support her father’s failing enterprises, gave up the love of her life. She became a star in London and in America, where she again found love (or, at least, mighty sexual chemistry) with a Southern slave owner, Pierce Butler. Married and forced to abandon her career as a result, she turned her excess energy to the cause of abolition and wrote and spoke on the subject in America and England. Her determined independence—and her husband’s extramarital affairs—led to a divorce in which she was forced to give up her beloved daughters. What to do after this but return to the theater? And, in fact, Fanny rebuilt a successful career as actress and author, best known for her journal of life on a pre–Civil War plantation. Although more discreet than her sister, Adelaide’s adventures were no less notable. She, too, surrendered the love of her life to forge a singing career in England and on the Continent. After her marriage to the son of an Italian banker she shone as a hostess, and her musicales and at-homes drew famous authors, artists, and musicians (including Robert Browning, Henry James, Frederic Leighton, and Felix Mendelssohn). Fanny was challenging and abrasive, Adelaide serene and thoughtful, but both suffered mightily (as only Victorians could) at the necessity to choose between dutiful matrimony and exciting careers.

Rich portraits of the sisters—and of the constraints and rewards of Victorian life. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 8, 2001

ISBN: 1-56663-372-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more