Though far from comprehensive, Mayer’s intriguing snapshot of Prince Charles reveals the often overlooked intricacies of his...

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BORN TO BE KING

PRINCE CHARLES ON PLANET WINDSOR

A brief biography of Britain’s famous king-in-waiting, Prince Charles.

The Prince of Wales has been a mainstay of international media for nearly his entire life. Between his tumultuous marriage to Princess Diana, which tragically culminated in a 1997 fatal car crash, and the nasty rumors that Charles is anxiously awaiting his mother’s death to ascend the throne, there has been no shortage of ink spilled over the prince. Yet despite his presence as a public figure, Charles has maintained a remarkably guarded life. Though he makes hundreds of appearances each year, from hosting world leaders to visiting local businesses across Britain, as a person, he is difficult to define. Longtime Time journalist Mayer has profiled dignitaries of all stripes, and here she sets out to dispel the prejudices dogging not only Charles, but also the institution of monarchy. Bad press and mismanagement have long plagued the Windsors, and politicians have routinely questioned the political and financial legitimacy of the royal family. Yet Prince Charles remains the family’s most active and public representative—for better or worse. Bucking the conventional linear narrative of traditional biographies, Mayer focuses her study of Charles on aspects of his character. Chief among them is his dedication to philanthropy and cultural initiatives. Charles was notably one of the first proponents of sustainable agriculture, environmental activism, and conservation in Britain, famously mentioning that he liked to walk through his garden and talk to his plants. He even founded one of the country’s first organic brands and published a manifesto called Harmony. Mayer also dives into the juicy bits such as family history and his marriage to Diana. Ultimately, she captures the contradiction between Charles’ traditional wisdom and progressive causes and illuminates a man perpetually caught in between the rule of royalty and his need to express himself as an individual.

Though far from comprehensive, Mayer’s intriguing snapshot of Prince Charles reveals the often overlooked intricacies of his personality.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-438-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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