An ebullient portrait of a marriage.

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TELL ME A STORY

MY LIFE WITH PAT CONROY

A chronicle of love, humor, and creativity.

In 1995, at a gathering of the Southern Voices Literary Conference, Conroy (The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life: Advice From a Failed Southern Belle, 2014, etc.) first met an author she deeply admired: Pat Conroy (1945-2016), whose 1986 novel, The Prince of Tides, had been a bestseller and was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. An “imposing and vibrant presence,” he exuded “an undeniable aura of magnetism and charm.” With her first novel due to come out, she was floored when he offered to provide a blurb and amazed a short time later when he called her—and kept calling her for the next two years. When he finally suggested that they meet in person, both felt as if they were old friends, and their relationship evolved into a love affair and, in 1998, marriage. The author brings her talents as a storyteller to a warm, candid memoir of their years together, ending with Pat’s death from cancer. When they first met, the author, recently divorced, was emerging from severe depression. Living alone in a studio apartment, she barely supported herself and her sons with various teaching jobs, trying to eke out time to write. Pat was divorced, too, although usually entangled in affairs; and he, too, had been left “depleted, despondent, and hollow-eyed with despair” after his last marriage ended. “I need someone to rescue me for a change,” Pat told her. She was buoyed by his humor and emotional generosity, though as she came to know him, she realized that he was “a complicated man who [hid] his deepest feelings behind a devil-may-care demeanor.” They nurtured each other’s creativity, publishing five books during their time together, and Pat pushed her to go on book tours to publicize her work. The author recounts in lively detail the stresses and joys of daily life: family gatherings, Pat’s recurring health problems, and their mutual love of the South Carolina marshland.

An ebullient portrait of a marriage.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-290562-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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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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