A sometimes diverting and funny yet unsatisfying book about what it was like to be, in the writer’s words, “the luckiest...

READ REVIEW

LADY BLUE EYES

MY LIFE WITH FRANK SINATRA

Glamorous days and nights in a privileged bubble with the Chairman of the Board.

Sinatra’s memoir begins engagingly, as the former Barbara Ann Blakeley recalls her hardscrabble Midwestern childhood, her early modeling career in California and her showgirl days in Vegas, where she first encountered Frank and his Rat Pack. The author details her bumpy marriage to Zeppo Marx, who introduced her to the leisurely life in Palm Springs, where Frank was a neighbor. Flirtation with the singer, then in the midst of a brief early-’70s “retirement,” turned into an affair after an assignation in Monaco, depicted here with admirable honesty. Unfortunately, after recounting Frank’s ardent courtship, her divorce from Marx and a protracted march to the altar (finally triggered by Barbara’s ultimatum) in 1976, the book turns breathless and the prose gets mauve. The author drops big names by the dozen, recalling an endless whirl of globetrotting concert appearances, charity events, lavish dinners and late-night hijinks. She also catalogs every glittering Cartier bauble the singer ever purchased for her. Though she considers Frank’s hot temper, pugnacity and oft-boorish behavior, the author dutifully soft-pedals his worst transgressions and sidesteps the sensational elements. Sinatra’s dealings with mobsters are foisted off on his late pal Jilly Rizzo, while the shadowy connections of fixer Sidney Korshak are left unmentioned. However, the author is unable to resist a dig at former First Lady Nancy Reagan, whose relationship with Sinatra was much whispered about. After a couple hundred pages of rapturous encomia, the book gains some force in the late going as Sinatra’s increasing infirmity and death in 1998 are poignantly delineated. Ultimately, readers learn little about the complex inner workings of the driven, very private entertainer.

A sometimes diverting and funny yet unsatisfying book about what it was like to be, in the writer’s words, “the luckiest girl alive.”

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-38233-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010

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.

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