A golden-hued, folksy account of a generous farming community.

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Fairdale, Texas: An Unforgettable Memory

ITS HISTORY AND THE BURR FAMILY CONNECTION

Anecdotes and history of an East Texas town, with a corncob-pipe theme.

Nostalgia and old-fashioned community spirit rule in the series of anecdotes about the lives and times of the 150 farming and small-business people who lived in Fairdale, Texas. Its lifespan was little more than a century before it disappeared under the waters of the Toledo Bend Reservoir in the 1960s. Oglesbee (San Augustine County, 2010) portrays the town’s social, economic and daily life during the early 20th century, based on reminiscences of residents and their descendants. It was hard going splitting wood, plowing by mule, nurturing crops threatened by the vagaries of nature, tending cattle and worrying about feeding a large family. An iron will, a belief in God and a cheerful community spirit seemed to pull everyone through. Livestock and domestic animals were almost part of the family. Bossy, one family’s cow, had the habit of munching on wild onions and bitter weeds, which made her milk undrinkable. Old Devil, a mule, possessed a cantankerous spirit but reliably pulled the plow and did the heavy lifting around the farm. Snip and Goode, two faithful dogs, showed astonishing instinct in looking after a herd of cows one night when a farmer was too ill to move. Children grew up surrounded by nature, amusing and enjoying themselves, without any of the luxuries available to big-city families. Fairdale’s claim to lasting fame is a possible/probable link with Aaron Burr, the U.S. vice president under Thomas Jefferson. Oglesbee researched the link meticulously (many of the town’s inhabitants were named Burr). A question that arises in the mind of the cynical reader is whether all the folk in the town were so openhearted and full of good spirit. Not a breath of scandal touches the chronicle. “No one knows where this place is but God and us,” is the comment of one former citizen. That is about the best epitaph any small town can have.

A golden-hued, folksy account of a generous farming community.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484033272

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2013

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

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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