A must-have for loyal royal fans.

LADY IN WAITING

MY EXTRAORDINARY LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN

An insider's look at the world of palaces, princesses, and the pressure of public life.

Readers who've already binge-watched the third season of The Crown needn't fret. Glenconner's meticulously detailed memoir of her life in service to the crown will whet the appetite of anyone hungering for more tales of Britain's royals. Opening with her childhood on the fifth-largest estate in England, the author chronicles her personal and professional life as lady-in-waiting and confidante to her childhood friend Princess Margaret. In Glenconner’s capable hands, we learn about a motley cast of characters including her horse- and Harley Davidson–riding mother, a Scottish great-aunt who was a Christian Scientist, and the formidable Queen Mary, who intimidated her grandchildren but gave the author good life advice. A pleasing blend of detail and balance, the book provides sufficient glimpses into sumptuous palaces and shooting parties to inspire awe and keen insight into the people who inhabit them. Glenconner's candor about wealth and privilege enables readers to sympathize as she describes the emotional coldness of her parents and her father's undisguised disappointment at her not being born a boy. The fun of racing with the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret through her family's palatial estate and various royal residences could not make up for the fact that the author's worth—or lack thereof—was predicated on her sex and marriage. The poor-little-rich-girl story is hardly new, but what makes this account fresh and poignant is Glenconner’s use of affluent characters to demonstrate the extent to which class trumps power; even those at the top seem helpless to challenge tradition. By unflinchingly examining everything from her troubled marriage and her fraught relationship with her children to the solace she found in service, the author emerges as a flawed yet steely woman worthy of respect. In laying her life bare, she demonstrates the limitations of being a woman in the British class system, showing that privilege is no insulation from suffering or pain.

A must-have for loyal royal fans.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-306-84636-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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