LEAVING A DOLL'S HOUSE

A MEMOIR

In her exquisite 1982 mini-memoir, Limelight and After, Bloom recalled her legendary collaboration with Chaplin—and, by telling just a little, enhanced her image as the most gently elegant of stars. Now the ``English Rose'' (who has never hidden her Jewishness) more or less Tells All, in an absorbing but saddening autobiography that stresses her humiliations in love. The story up to 1951 is much as it was in the earlier book: strained childhood (a WW II sojourn with unpleasant US relatives, desertion by father Eddie); teenage theater success; the instant celebrity of Limelight. Next: the Old Vic and first love with married costar Richard Burton—a five-year secret affair with a bittersweet end . . . and a short, sour reprise years later, when Burton was also dallying with Susan Strasberg. (Bloom cheerfully snipes at Liz Taylor, for whom Burton did leave his wife.) The Richard III film brought a loveless mini-affair with dazzling Laurence Olivier; magnetic Yul Brynner briefly added Bloom to his Hollywood ``harem,'' leaving her ``relatively unwounded.'' Husband #1, Rod Steiger, was Method-obsessed, often depressed, and wanted Bloom home in L.A., not pursuing her stage career. Husband #2, Hillard Elkins, was into drugs and kinky sex—but showcased Bloom in classy productions of Ibsen and Streetcar. Anthony Quinn, nasty as a director, was Bloom's only one-night stand. And the book's last 100 pages focus on her 18 years with brilliant, erratic Philip Roth: his selfish demands, which damaged Bloom's relationship with her daughter; his ruthless fictional use of personal material; his illnesses, Halcion-induced breakdown, sadistic infidelities, and rejections. With an iffy fade-out and much unexplored psychological territory, this literate, dispiriting memoir doesn't quite work as a tale of hard-won emotional independence. But it's dense with rewards for theater/film buffs and sure to be grabbed up by anyone interested in the reality behind all those self-portraits in Roth's tricky fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-09980-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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