VIOLET

THE LIFE AND LOVES OF VIOLET GORDON WOODHOUSE

An extraordinary portrait of a remarkable Englishwoman, a musical era, and a time gone by. The many for whom Violet Gordon Woodhouse is not a household name should read this book. A child prodigy on the piano, Woodhouse did for early music in the first half of this century what Sir Neville Mariner has done for it in the last 20 years. A harpsichordist and clavichordist of prodigious abilities, she made the performance of early composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Scarlatti her personal musical mission. Which is not to suggest that Woodhouse was some nerdy stick-in-the-mud. She was, in fact, a woman so enchanting that she convinced her husband to marry her even though she made it clear they would never have children or, for that matter, sex. She also managed to get this lovestruck soul (whom she did also love, by the way) to agree not long after their marriage to allow three other men equally besotted with her to live with them. It was an arrangement that continued, except for an interruption occasioned by WW I, for the rest of their lives. Woodhouse was equally bewitching to the female sex, serving as the love interest of a number of women, the most notable of whom were the composer Ethel Smyth and the novelist Radclyffe Hall. In between these romantic interludes, Woodhouse made the first recordings of harpsichord music, played with such luminaries as the cellist Pablo Casals, hosted salons whose guests included Picasso, Ezra Pound, and the Sitwells, and snagged the family inheritance after the butler murdered two spinster sisters to whom her father had left his millions. Deftly written by Douglas-Home, Woodhouse's great-niece and a painter, this book has all the makings of a Masterpiece Theatre hit. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1997

ISBN: 1-86046-269-3

Page Count: 342

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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