A candid portrait of an indefatigable woman.

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A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE

A MEMOIR

Growing up queer in midcentury America.

In 2010, Windsor (1929-2017) sued the United States for recognition of her marriage to a woman, claiming her legal right of inheritance from her late wife’s estate. Her victory in the suit, which catapulted her to fame, marked the transformation of a deeply closeted woman into an outspoken gay rights activist. In a forthright and vivid memoir, written with the assistance of journalist Lyon (Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict, 2009), Windsor reveals her early realization of her attraction to women and her long struggle to navigate homophobia among family members and at work, to live openly as a lesbian, and to marry the woman she loved. After Windsor died, Lyon took over the unfinished project, resulting in “a memoir/biography hybrid” that complements, and often deepens, Windsor’s narrative with information and insights that Lyon uncovered from his continued research. Lyon discovered, for example, that Windsor had a fierce temper, that her skill as a card counter enabled her to win big in casinos, and that she tended to “brush past” painful memories, such as the rift within her family caused by her sexuality. Although Windsor knew she was gay, she married a man who had been a close family friend, thinking she could bury her feelings for women. Soon, however, she rebelled against the charade: “The core of my identity, my natural biological instinct, wasn’t going to change.” Divorced, she moved to Greenwich Village, where she dove energetically into gay social life and sex. “She went through so many women,” a friend told Lyon. At the same time, she embarked on a successful career as a mathematician, writing programs for the UNIVAC computer and eventually developing software at IBM. In the workplace, she deflected matchmakers by pretending to have a boyfriend. In 2007, when she married Dutch-born psychologist Thea Spyer after a relationship of more than 40 years, co-workers asked her why she had lied to them. Windsor’s world had changed dramatically.

A candid portrait of an indefatigable woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19513-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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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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