PICASSO AND DORA

A MEMOIR

An intricate and intimate view of Picasso's aloof mistress and model Dora Maar, by onetime-companion Lord (Giacometti, 1985, etc.). An American soldier in Paris in 1944, Lord seeks out Picasso and requests that the artist draw his portrait. Picasso takes Lord to lunch with Maar—the first encounter in what evolves into the author's infatuation with the muse. Maar and her role in Picasso's genius fascinate Lord, who toys with the idea of himself being a ``figment'' of Picasso's ``creative imagination.'' From the fall of 1953 into the spring of 1954, when Maar is 46 and Lord 31, the two have dinner almost every night and spend weeks together away from Paris. Lord claims constant enchantment: ``being with Dora...was the be-all and end-all of thinking as well as of feeling.'' And later: ``I never ceased to be under the spell of her beauty, the lambent gleam of her gaze, the bird-of-paradise voice...all the aura of tense serenity and power and pathos so poignantly portrayed by Picasso.'' Yet the pair's bond is defined by Lord's homosexuality (``seeking promiscuous oblivion in the embraces of boys''). At night, Maar and Lord separate with a ritual kiss, the writer constantly pondering the model's expectations. Lord's narrative, based on a journal, contains countless backstage details—from Picasso's insults at a party given by the collector Douglas Cooper to Dora's attachment to a cigarette lighter that had ``cost'' the artist ``a visit to the Place Vendome.'' But of deeper interest than these anecdotes is a long, climactic letter in which Lord finally denounces his and Maar's unequal roles and the pride, selfishness, and avarice that, he says, isolate Maar—who still lives in Paris, in the same apartment where they so often sat. An account memorable in its frankness about a ``friendship'' that was extraordinary but flawed—not least because of the friends' shared obsession with ``the monarch of twentieth-century art.'' (Illustrations—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-23208-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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