A guide to embracing and understanding the later stages of life.
In her debut, Schoenholz coins a new term for an older woman whose children have left home and whose career is likely winding down. She calls her a Belledame, a term that invokes “the beautiful and the mature” and “[she] who moves into elderhood with grace and joy.” After some heavy reflection, the author, a Belledame herself, writes, “I should be moving from the ‘bucolic’ family life I had already experienced...toward the ‘city’ of the future.” Readers learn about her journey toward self-acceptance through journal entries, short poems and illustrations. The author certainly practices what she preaches, as she found a second career as an archaeologist after her children left home. The prospect of rediscovering herself clearly excites her, although she knows that she and other women have their work cut out for them: “I suspect that the better we have been at being the Mother, the harder it will be to become the Belledame. I am discovering…certain freedoms that I long ago suppressed, or repressed, in favor of focus on my family.” Her sentiments are likely to resonate with readers of a certain generation, as will her thoughts on the responsibilities of grandmothering, how to travel as an older person and what sorts of personal accomplishments are worth celebrating. There are a few weak spots, some of them technical: Most of the book is presented in a typeface that isn’t easy on the eyes, and the author quotes Wikipedia as a primary source. There’s also an underdeveloped section about quantum physics and a discussion of personal symbols that seems like it was more helpful for the writer’s own personal journey than it will be for her readers’. But Schoenholz is a likable, honest writer (“So, getting old is indeed a bitch”), and her goal of “[d]ancing down to death” may inspire others to make the most of their older years.
A kind, intimate manual to growing old that isn’t radical but is reassuring and sweet.

Pub Date: May 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497573260

Page Count: 114

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955