Warm, funny and full of heart.

READ REVIEW

THE FRENCH HOUSE

AN AMERICAN FAMILY, A RUINED MAISON, AND THE VILLAGE THAT RESTORED THEM ALL

A journalist and fiction writer’s account of how a crumbling house he bought on a French island became his family’s unexpected refuge and salvation.

Wallace (One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football Game, 2003, etc.) and his wife, Mindy, were two wayward surfer-writers with big dreams when they first saw Belle Ile. Their other island home, Manhattan, “was doing its best to shake [them] off, the way a dog does fleas.” A French professor friend named Gwened told them about a cottage that was for sale in the Belle Ile town of Kebordardoue. Broke but craving stability, the couple bought the house almost sight unseen. Only after they saw the cottage two years later did they realize how they had been lured into becoming property owners by the charmingly manipulative Gwened to help spare Kebordardoue from becoming a seaside tourist attraction. The cottage was unlivable and needed costly repairs they could not afford, and it was also located in a village that did not easily accept new residents, especially foreign ones with the idea of becoming absentee landowners. Monetary and logistical challenges threatened to derail the Wallaces’ restoration plans, but with pluck, humor and help from the indomitable Gwened, they made the ruined cottage livable again. They also learned to navigate the tricky social waters that separated them from their colorful, often eccentric neighbors. Over time, Wallace and his wife went from being the laughingstocks of Kebordadoue to beloved community members who helped popularize surfing on Belle Ile. Family, career and financial crises inevitably intervened along the way. But the “maison saine, ”or healthy house, that Gwened helped them rebuild to preserve a small island town became their own “sane” space of tranquility in the midst of life storms.

Warm, funny and full of heart.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9331-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

more