A lively political book that focuses more on pop psychology than objective analysis.

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WHY THEY STAY

SEX SCANDALS, DEALS, AND HIDDEN AGENDAS OF NINE POLITICAL WIVES

A journalist explores the motivations and emotional constructs of nine political wives who chose to stay in their marriages—in some cases, only for a while—after being confronted with their husbands’ infidelities.

Why do wives of prominent politicians stand by their men after they have been betrayed, especially when that disloyalty has been publicly revealed? This is the question Michaud, a former columnist for Newsday, sets out to answer in her gossipy debut book. She establishes a rather esoteric scale by which to evaluate these women’s decisions—something she calls the White Queen Quotient. For those unfamiliar with 15th-century British history (or the eponymous TV series), the original White Queen was Elizabeth Woodville, who “apparently knew that her husband Edward IV had mistresses—and even one special mistress, Elizabeth Shore. But the rewards of being queen kept her bound to her royal husband.” Michaud then creates five attributes by which she establishes her subjects’ White Queen rating: Submitting to Tradition; Longing for Security; A Personal Sense of Patriotism; Responsibility for Family’s Emotional Health; and Ambition to Build and Bequeath a Legacy. From Eleanor Roosevelt (whose heartache was kept relatively private) to Huma Abedin (assistant to Hillary Clinton and former wife of Anthony Weiner), Michaud, using numerous secondary research sources, details the family histories and accomplishments of each of the women and their erring spouses. There’s not much new here about the six American couples studied, but U.S. readers will likely be less familiar with the one Israeli and two British couples dissected. Skillful prose makes the dishy profiles an engaging read. Unfortunately, Michaud sometimes veers into judgmental speculation and indulges in unsubstantiated assumptions. For example, after discussing the humiliation of wives facing the press during their husbands’ standard confessionals, she writes: “The publicity allows the women who stay to inflate their sense of themselves as loyal, and to bask in other ego-pleasing fantasies.” Of Abedin, the author offers: “Huma had to choose: Anthony Weiner or Hillary Clinton. In the end, it wasn’t Huma’s injured wifely feelings that ended her marriage so much as her professional pride and ambition.”

 A lively political book that focuses more on pop psychology than objective analysis.

Pub Date: March 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9976633-1-0

Page Count: 279

Publisher: Ogunquit-NY Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2018

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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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