A sympathetic portrait of a woman who saw her lover in the same “heroic light” as he saw himself.

LARA

THE UNTOLD LOVE STORY AND THE INSPIRATION FOR DOCTOR ZHIVAGO

A British journalist investigates her great-uncle’s love affair.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) was 56 and married to his second wife, Zinaida, when he met 34-year-old Olga Ivinskaya and immediately fell in love: “She is so enchanting, such a radiant, golden person,” he exulted. “I never thought I would still know such joy.” Flattered by the attentions of Russia’s most lauded poet, Olga reciprocated his passion. Pasternak (Daisy Dooley Does Divorce, 2007, etc.) draws on family correspondence; memoirs by Olga, her daughter (whom Pasternak interviewed), Boris’ sister and son; and Boris’ own writings to sensitively examine the dramatic relationship as well as to rescue the reputation of the woman whom the Pasternak family derided and denounced. At first, Pasternak worried about discovering that Boris “used Olga” but concluded that he did his best “within the constraints of his domestic situation to honour her and her family,” supporting them financially and trusting Olga “with his most precious commodity—his work. He sought her advice, her editing and typing assistance” and showed his love in his novel Doctor Zhivago, which Pasternak reads as a “long and heartfelt love letter to her.” Nevertheless, Boris comes across as self-absorbed, at best naively romantic, enjoying “the drama of anguish” and torment that he created for long-suffering Olga and his wife and children. He seemed to care nothing about putting them at risk with his defiance of Stalinist policy. He was somewhat protected by fame, but Olga was vulnerable: twice she was arrested, sentenced to years in gulags. “I owe my life and the fact that they did not touch me in those years to her heroism and endurance,” Boris admitted. Yet he was so insensitive that upon her release from prison, he asked her daughter to tell her that their relationship was over. Pasternak’s recounting of the publication of Doctor Zhivago, and Soviet pressure for him to renounce the Nobel Prize in Literature, draws largely on Peter Finn and Petra Couvée’s The Zhivago Affair (2014).

A sympathetic portrait of a woman who saw her lover in the same “heroic light” as he saw himself.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243934-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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