A vivid history of wartime heroism.

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CODE NAME: LISE

THE TRUE STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO BECAME WWII'S MOST HIGHLY DECORATED SPY

A true-life thriller centers around a defiant woman who spied for Britain.

Loftis (Into the Lion’s Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov: World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real Life Inspiration for James Bond, 2016) recounts the story of Odette Sansom (1912-1995), a Frenchwoman living in England, wife of an Englishman and mother of 3 daughters, who was recruited into Britain’s Special Operations Executive program to conduct espionage in France during World War II. Drawing on interviews, oral histories, and memoirs of key players (including Odette’s commander, lover, and eventually second husband, Peter Churchill), Loftis creates a tense narrative filled with verbatim conversations among more than 30 main characters. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, and though the prose is peppered with clichés—Peter and Odette were drawn to each other “like magnets”; they were “at the bridge of the river of love”; when the Gestapo added Peter’s name to their blacklist, “it seemed only a matter of time that lady luck would succumb to the odds”—the author creates a readable page-turner about Odette’s dangerous missions. Although at first reluctant to join the SOE, Odette desperately wanted to help the war effort. Leaving her daughters in a convent school and with relatives, she joined the rigorous training program, becoming proficient with a wide range of weapons, learning the fine points of spycraft—such as distinguishing the uniforms and ranks of Vichy, Axis, Gestapo, SS, and Luftwaffe soldiers—and perfecting her new identity with the code name Lise. Once under Peter’s command in France, she proved herself fearless. Hunted by the Germans, in 1943, Odette and Peter were captured, imprisoned, and tortured. Loftis describes Odette’s ordeal in grisly detail, and she spent months certain that she was about to be executed. But two lies saved her: She pretended that she and Peter were married (they would be after the war) and that Peter was related to Winston Churchill. After their defeat, the Gestapo hoped to use her as a bargaining chip.

A vivid history of wartime heroism.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9865-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

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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