by Frances Wilson ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 2021
A distinctly original perspective on an iconic writer.
A fresh study of D.H. Lawrence’s enigmatic life and writing.
In her latest, noted literary critic and biographer Wilson delivers an absorbing, eccentric work of imaginative biography, a text that is by turns deeply revelatory, opinionated, and occasionally rambling. The author focuses on the middle years of Lawrence’s writing career, from 1915 to 1925, and she allegorically frames the three sections of his journey around Dante’s Divine Comedy. “Inferno” covers Lawrence’s years in England while writing The Rainbow and Women in Love and his early years of marriage to Frieda. In “Purgatory,” Wilson chronicles his years in Italy, which featured a murky series of financial and possibly intimate intrigues with American traveler and writer Maurice Magnus. “Paradise” takes us to Australia, which inspired his novel Kangaroo, onward to the American Southwest and Mexico, and up to his tuberculosis diagnosis. Interweaving entertaining accounts of his travels and his relationships along the way with examples of his writing, Wilson skillfully evokes Lawrence’s restless spirit while partially penetrating his contradictory manners and impulses. “His fidelity as a writer was not to the truth but to his own contradictions,” she writes, “and reading him today is like tuning into a radio station whose frequency keeps changing….Of all the Lawrentian paradoxes, however, the most arresting is that he was an intellectual who devalued the intellect, placing his faith in the wisdom of the very body that throughout his life was failing him.” Wilson casts a vivid light on his many notable associations—among them, Katherine Mansfield, Norman Douglas, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Ottoline Morrell—many of whom published books on their experiences with Lawrence. With more than a hint of misogyny found in some of his fiction, Lawrence is not a particularly relevant author for our times, and Wilson’s effort may not elicit renewed interest despite the author’s colorful depictions of his travels and provocative analysis of his work and personal shortcomings.A distinctly original perspective on an iconic writer.
Pub Date: June 15, 2021
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021
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by Britney Spears ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 24, 2023
Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.
Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023
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by Barbra Streisand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.
When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 992
Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023
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