A sad history of a woman consumed by passion and despair.



Steamy sex in 1920s Paris.

When Berthault, the former French ambassador to Brunei, found a cache of love letters in a friend’s cellar, he became so fascinated that he bought them. This selection, lightly annotated, represents about a third of the “salacious” correspondence, written from 1928 to 1930, of Simone to her married lover, Charles, “something to be read,” Berthault suggests, “with the avid curiosity that an anachronistic pornographic novel might arouse.” Pornographic they are, and tediously repetitive as well, as Simone recounts the thrusting, licking, throbbing, and quivering of their lovemaking and tantalizes Charles with “the perverse ministrations” that she will offer at their next tryst. In the first months of the affair, they engage in oral and anal sex, and she delights in his beating her until she is raw and bleeding. “Do you know, you have so thoroughly whipped these buttocks you love,” she exults, that they are “one huge bruise.” She promises that one day, he will tie her wrists and ankles to the bedposts “and whip me furiously,” a prospect she thinks he ardently desires. Anticipating his desires becomes her way of proving her all-consuming love. “Did I not tell you I was your slave?” she asks. Hardly a sexually liberated woman, Simone reveals herself to be needy, neurotic, and hysterical, desperately afraid that Charles will leave her. “She would have made an ideal patient for Dr. Freud,” the editor comments. About six months into the affair, Simone decides that Charles secretly longs for a homosexual relationship, given his “taste for sodomy.” Charles, she says, will become her “mistress” and Simone the “man.” She even offers him a male lover, who, Berthault speculates, may have hastened the end of the affair. After two years, Charles was weary of his wild mistress.

A sad history of a woman consumed by passion and despair.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9877-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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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...


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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