A bracing tale of the fierce struggle waged by those devoted to the sea as a way of life.

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BAY OF SPIRITS

A LOVE STORY

Hardy, sea-sprayed travelogue of the author’s colorful journeys along the rugged Newfoundland coast in the 1950s and ’60s.

Mowat (No Man’s River, 2004, etc.) once again vividly displays his unique talent for recreating remote Northern landscapes and their inhabitants. Arriving in glacially scarred Newfoundland, aptly called “the Rock,” in 1957, he found a spirited, sea-loving people clinging tenuously to their Old World traditions. He bought a 30-foot schooner and embarked on a years-long exploration. In 1960, aboard that very vessel, he met and fell in love with a young commercial artist, Claire Wheeler. Mowat left his wife and two young children for Claire, a decision he makes no effort to justify, or even explain. He never looked back, and soon he and his new love were exploring Newfoundland’s most isolated coastal villages. Along the way, they encountered feisty ferry captains whose seamanship astounded even the most weathered harbor pilot; descendants of now-extinct Indian tribes, watching as modern fishing fleets inexorably depleted their once-rich fishing beds; and 80-year-old Marie Penney, the hospitable “Queen of the Coast,” whose fish-processing plants dominated Newfoundland industry. Far less welcoming were the hostile and suspicious residents of Grey River, an eerie hamlet mysteriously devoid of dogs. Mowat and Claire eventually bought a seaside cottage in the remote village of Burgeo, bringing the first motorcar to that part of the world. Their summer idylls on land and sea were sublime, but they also witnessed repulsive examples of human cruelty to fellow creatures that ultimately forced them to rethink their choices. As always, Mowat’s powers of recollection and description are prodigious, whether conjuring up a becalmed cliff-lined inlet or a churning, windswept coastal storm. It must be noted, however, that his canvas here is often bleak, and after a while, the impoverished hamlets reeking of fish all seem the same.

A bracing tale of the fierce struggle waged by those devoted to the sea as a way of life.

Pub Date: May 4, 2007

ISBN: 0-7867-1994-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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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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