Well crafted, intimate and engaging: an unorthodox rite of passage with ruminations on faith, feminism and more.

RIDING IN THE SHADOWS OF SAINTS

A WOMAN’S STORY OF MOTORCYCLING THE MORMON TRAIL

A quest for hope, meaning, a sense of place and ancestral connections, all mounted on two slippery wheels.

When she faced a personal crisis of fear and vulnerability exacerbated by 9/11, Richman recalls, she began talking about riding her motorcycle the length of the old Mormon Trail, 1,300 miles from Nauvoo, Ill., to Salt Lake City; in so doing, she would follow the path of seven of her great-great grandmothers (the eighth made the journey, though by train, not foot). At the point she realized she couldn’t back out of it, the author admits, “Everything about the idea scared the hell out of me—handling the bike, traveling alone, traffic, weather, road construction, strangers along the way, what I might find out about my Mormon ancestors, what I might find out about myself.” There’s her book, in a nutshell, but readers will also find that she writes candidly and from the heart about her rebellion from a conflicted Mormon family in Tooele, Utah—her father had no use for the church, constantly kept her steadfastly devout mother from full participation—and her own apostasy based on what turns out to be a not so simple lack of faith. She also admits that while she is an experienced rider (at 45), she has no affinity with a bike’s inner mechanical workings, and should she accidentally “drop” hers—let it fall down—loaded for touring at well over 500 pounds, she wouldn’t be able to pick it up by herself. Richman annotates her ride with stories of the original “Saints” (Mormons) on the sometimes tragic trek (over 10 percent died on the trail), often emotionally reliving the travails of her great-great-grandmothers. Self-realization, if not the true belief, is her reward at journey’s end.

Well crafted, intimate and engaging: an unorthodox rite of passage with ruminations on faith, feminism and more.

Pub Date: July 19, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-4542-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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