Captivating, gossipy social history.

READ REVIEW

THE LOST GIRLS

LOVE AND LITERATURE IN WARTIME LONDON

The tale of a small group of upper-middle-class young women who inhabited the rarefied world of literary London during and after World War II.

Drawing on rich archival sources and the many memoirs, novels, and stories written by his prolific cast of characters, British biographer, novelist, and cultural historian Taylor (The New Book of Snobs, 2017, etc.), winner of the Whitbread Prize for Biography, creates a brisk, spirited portrait of the astonishingly beautiful women who “fizzed” around Cyril Connolly, “a genuine literary power-broker, a grand panjandrum, a maker—and breaker—of reputations,” in 1940s Britain. Self-aggrandizing, self-indulgent, “easily wounded, unforgiving, dislikeable, delightful,” according to a male friend, Connolly inspired “unfeigned devotion” in his female admirers. “Whether they were living with him, employed by him, pursued by him or merely wistfully regarded by him from afar,” Taylor writes, “he was the fulcrum on which their existence turned.” Among those in his orbit, the author focuses mostly on four: Lys Lubbock, a devoted caretaker and survivor of a nine-year affair with Connolly; fiery Barbara Skelton, who married him; his editorial assistant, Sonia Brownell, who married George Orwell; and Janetta Parladé, who was 17 when Connolly anointed her his “muse.” Christened “the lost girls” by poet and critic Peter Quennell, they had “spent their adolescence scheming to escape” oppressive, often fractured, family life. Flouting convention and flaunting independence, still, they yearned for security and love. Physically, they were a type: notably attractive, “tallish, slim to the point of skimpiness” (except for Sonia). Financially vulnerable, each spent the war years “moving from place to place and billet to billet as the demands of work, romance and inclination took her.” Living in an unheated bedsitter, they might depend on “an eligible or not so eligible suitor” to pick up the tab at upscale restaurants. “Glamorous, edgy and inimitable,” the lost girls, Taylor concedes, left no indelible legacy except perhaps as a link between emancipated young women of the 1920s and the “Dionysiac hordes of the 1960s and 1970s.”

Captivating, gossipy social history.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64-313315-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more