Well-researched, fascinating and thought-provoking.

SHAKESPEARE'S DARK LADY: AMELIA BASSANO LANIER

THE WOMAN BEHIND SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS?

Hudson’s first book is a scholarly examination of the ongoing debate about the authorship of the works of William Shakespeare.

Hudson argues that an obscure but talented woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier—posited to be both Shakespeare’s “dark lady” of the sonnets and a “secret Jew”—was in the right place at the right time, and had the right skills and knowledge, to be the true creator of classics such as Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. Regardless of one’s opinion on the subject of the Bard of Avon’s works and their provenance, this book is a smart, wide-ranging examination of the society and circumstances of the 16th and 17th centuries. Subjects covered include Shakespearean scholarship itself (and its methods), life in late Renaissance London and the British royal court, English theater, plagues, gender, religion, intellectual life and a great deal more. Hudson argues that Shakespeare’s plays, like Lanier’s work, are highly critical of Christianity, that they reflect her travels (including a journey to Denmark) and that Lanier—like Shakespeare—is said to have undertaken a brief career as a schoolteacher. That Lanier had so much of the same background as Shakespeare supports Hudson’s theory; that she had even more of the necessary background than the Bard did (as a musician, a law clerk, etc.) makes Hudson’s case even more compelling. Even if Lanier didn’t write the works of Shakespeare, she is a notable person in her own right. Exhaustively documented, with a lengthy bibliography and full index, the volume is clearly written and makes a deeply intriguing case for its thesis. Although many readers will take exception to its ideas from the very beginning (not everyone agrees that the generally known biography of Shakespeare makes him “superhuman” or his efforts “impossible”), Hudson’s historical sleuthing and careful speculation make the Lanier theory at least as plausible as most of the others (from Edward de Vere, Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon on down). With graphics that include a “knowledge map” of which candidates might have been able to write which plays and symmetry analyses of some of the major works, the book advances these ideas concisely and with great rhetorical conviction.

Well-researched, fascinating and thought-provoking.

Pub Date: April 30, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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