An entertaining but too predictable tale.

THE FORTRESS

A LOVE STORY

A handsome prince turns into an ogre in a memoir that reads like a fairy tale.

When she was 27, novelist and memoirist Trussoni (Angelopolis, 2013, etc.), married with a 1-year-old son, met Nikolai, a mesmerizing Bulgarian “with an aura of invincibility about him.” As she confesses, “I was a woman ready to be swept away.” Nikolai, she told her dismayed husband, was “a magician who would make all my dreams come true.” At first blinded by his exoticism, Trussoni gradually realized that Nikolai was no hero, although he was so mired in superstition (evil eyes, mantras, and hexes) that he fit the description of a magician. Their marriage began to fall apart, and after 8 years and the failure of couples therapy, the author decided they must move “far away from everything—far from successes and troubles,” to a village in the south of France, where, she hoped, they could protect their “fragile love.” Installed in a medieval fortress, Nikolai became increasingly moody, withdrawn, and erratic. A friend, who plied him with herbal remedies, suggested a weekend getaway. When that turned sour, Trussoni decided to stage an elaborate renewal ceremony, but Nikolai had a near-breakdown during the ritual. The author devotes much of the narrative to reconstructing Nikolai’s long rants, but she offers little insight about her own insecurities and delusions. She consulted an astrologer, who told her that her soul yearned for “authentic love,” which would require “growing through hell.” Enter a gorgeous young Frenchman, with whom Trussoni began an affair, inciting Nikolai to desperate measures. The author is an engaging storyteller, but her memoir is weakened by clichés (a resident ghost, the princess locked in the castle) and stock characters, including a fairy godmother (her lover’s chic mother) who rescued her. Back in the United States, Trussoni eventually came to the trite conclusion that she could not sustain a relationship until she learned how “to be a singular person” who could be “happy alone first.”

An entertaining but too predictable tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-245900-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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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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