An engaging account of an angry, sad, and ultimately triumphant journey to new beginnings.



In this debut memoir, a woman revisits the tumultuous period during and after the dissolution of her 20-year marriage, recalling her struggles to reimagine and reconstruct her life.

In 2009, six years and seven judges after Willett discovered that her husband, Jake, was cheating on her, a divorce decree was issued. She was “fifty-three and unemployed.” She had not wanted the divorce and did everything she could to fight it. Finally, the author did win one battle: She got to keep the couple’s house, a beautiful Victorian brownstone in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. The legal skirmishes surrounding the divorce offer an illuminating backstory that highlights the changing ethos in the family court system of the new millennium. Some readers may see it as a reflection of the “mommy wars” prevalent in today’s social media universe. Willett had given up her own legal career after her first daughter, Nicki, was born. By 2009, she had not held a full-time job for over a decade. For this decision, she received a disturbing, highly unprofessional dressing down by the seventh judge, a woman: “You’ve offended every working parent in the courthouse by becoming a stay-at-home mom.” Four years later, as the couple’s younger daughter, Ella, a high school senior, was preparing to go off to college, the author accepted the reality that it was time to sell the brownstone. Although she had already spent years returning or discarding the things Jake had left behind, she now was faced with dispensing with the plethora of items that can accumulate over more than a decade of living in a large house. The agonizing process of going through every cabinet, stored carton, and piece of paper forms the organizational structure of the intriguing narrative. Each item triggers a series of vivid memories, creating a story that frequently, sometimes exhaustingly alternates back and forth in time. While there are too many details, the articulate prose is solid (“Clutter experts say if you haven’t used something in a year you should err on the side of throwing it out. I could have filled truckloads using that litmus test, but it seemed wasteful. Besides, what if I plain loved something, even if I barely or never used it?”). Readers who have endured “paring down” will find much here that resonates.

An engaging account of an angry, sad, and ultimately triumphant journey to new beginnings.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64293-150-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

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


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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