A captivating story of yet another strong, brilliant woman who should be better known.



A history of an important suffragist that serves as “a quintessentially American story of self-making.”

Hamlin (American Studies/Miami Univ.; From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women's Rights in Gilded Age America, 2015) chronicles the life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (1853-1925), born Alice Chenoweth, who was involved with a married man while serving as the principal of a Sandusky, Ohio, teacher training school. To avoid the label of “fallen woman,” she moved with her lover, Charles Smart, to Detroit and then, in 1884, to New York City, where she changed her name. She joined the free thought movement led by Robert Ingersoll, “the great agnostic,” and became its most influential woman. Gardener was an early proponent of women’s rights, working to raise the legal age of consent to 16, giving women the right to own property, and attacking the religious and cultural biases of scientific research used to degrade women. Ingersoll mentored her, encouraging her speaking engagements and writing, including her books Men, Women, and Gods, and Other Lectures and Is This Your Son, My Lord?, which sold more than 25,000 copies following its publication in 1891. For two decades she was a regular presence at Ingersoll’s weekly “at homes,” which featured some of the most interesting people in New York. Her writing ability opened doors for her, especially her introductory letters in which she tried to connect to important persons. Woodrow Wilson was Gardener’s greatest connection, and her work lobbying him to help the passage of the 19th Amendment was indispensable. After Smart’s death in 1901, she went to Puerto Rico, where she got reacquainted with Col. Selden Allen Day, whom she eventually married. After traveling the world for a few years, in 1910, they moved to Washington, D.C., where Gardener became a leader at the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Her tactics to woo and influence Washington’s lawmakers were legendary. Throughout the chronological, passionately researched narrative, Hamlin captures all angles of her fascinating subject.

A captivating story of yet another strong, brilliant woman who should be better known.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00497-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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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