A touching, sensitive journey that will, like Masson’s previous books, find a wide audience.

LOST COMPANIONS

REFLECTIONS ON THE DEATH OF PETS

The acclaimed author of numerous books about the emotional lives of animals now turns to the experience of losing a pet.

“I believe it is a deep and ancient longing, to bond with a member of a different species,” writes Masson near the beginning of this heart-rending foray into the challenge of “facing the death of…the animal you have come to love like any other member of the family.” Nothing brings home the depth of that relationship like death, upon which we “are confronted with mortality in general, writ large in these animals who have become family, but in some sense even more than family—maybe part of ourselves.” The author investigates the psychology of this loss through testimonies from their human companions as well as conversations with friends and veterinarians. Masson’s tone is sympathetic, for he is a firm believer in the sentience of animals and the dignity with which they should be treated in life and death. He argues that animals have a sense of impending death and that death could be as relevant to them as it is to us. Dogs, in particular, bring an unalloyed state of pure happiness when they are in our presence, an elemental love free of all the baggage that accompanies human relationships. In many ways, that is why their loss is so heartbreaking. Occasionally, Masson’s associations go too far—“losing [a pet] is very much like losing a child”—but readers can skip parts that seem over the edge. The author has many wise things to impart about a child’s grief—e.g., “it is important to recognize the genuineness of the emotions of the child, to honor them by taking them seriously.”

A touching, sensitive journey that will, like Masson’s previous books, find a wide audience.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20223-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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