The author’s affection for his principals permeates all, brightening the dark corners and dulling the jagged edges.

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ANDY AND DON

THE MAKING OF A FRIENDSHIP AND A CLASSIC AMERICAN TV SHOW

Veteran journalist de Visé (co-author, with Su Meck: I Forgot to Remember, 2014) returns with a plethora of memories about actors Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, who propelled The Andy Griffith Show to enormous popularity in the 1960s.

As the author reminds us, the show about rural Mayberry remains in the popular culture: it’s never been off the air, he writes, and Mount Airy, North Carolina, continues to profit from fans’ visits and its annual “Mayberry Days.” De Visé follows a traditional dual biography format, alternating chapters about his principals at first and then blending their stories later on: birth to death to interment to afterglow. He does little to conceal his own affection for the performers, writing about “the magic that could unfold” between the two and how Griffith, despite “whatever drama might be playing out at home…remained an impeccable professional on the set.” For many readers, this will become grating. The author doesn’t neglect the dark side of the story, though he hardly emphasizes it. Both Griffith and Knotts married three times, and both had what de Visé winkingly calls a wandering eye. Griffith drank heavily and battled physically with his first wife, and Knotts partied hard. Griffith also had an envious streak: Knotts won five consecutive Emmys on the show; Griffith won zero. We follow the rise of their careers—early on, Knotts was a ventriloquist—their meeting on the set of No Time for Sergeants, and their fast friendship, which waxed and waned and waxed again. De Visé often tells us a bit about specific episodes and about the other players in the productions (with some emphasis on Jim Nabors), and he chronicles the tougher post-Mayberry years that, for Griffith, terminated with his success on his show Matlock, which ran from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. Knotts had later success in low-budget films and with touring theatrical productions.

The author’s affection for his principals permeates all, brightening the dark corners and dulling the jagged edges.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4773-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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