A JOURNEY WITH ELSA CLOUD

In a weighty account, kitchen sink included, a proper, upper- class mother visits her estranged daughter in India and during their perambulations through the countryside achieve a better, if not complete, appreciation for each other's viewpoint. Nothing escapes the descriptive attack of Hadley, a blue- blooded, experienced magazine and travel writer, as she and daughter Veronica (a.k.a. Elsa Cloud) travel through the subcontinent in class, visiting the palaces of maharajahs, touring game preserves, participating in some wild Hindu festivals, and finally reaching Veronica's Buddhist redoubt near the home of the Dalai Lama. Keen of eye and ear, Hadley gives a detailed disquisition on India's flora and fauna, history, geography, religions, and foods as well as individual portraits of Indian holy men, intellectuals, and ordinary folk—all of which can leave a reader gasping under its magnitude. But India's spiritualism, its conjoining of asceticism and erotica, its architecture and landscape, principally form the stage for Hadley's quest to come to terms with her 25-year-old daughter's rebellion—which one suspects is not entirely deep-seated—against her materially based upbringing—as well as Hadley's fixations on her own relationship with her frigid mother. Hadley avoids confrontations with Veronica, while confiding her anxieties and complaints to her reader: She wonders whether she has repeated her mother's mistakes in raising Veronica; she questions whether Veronica has inherited the emotional coldness of her own mother. In between, Hadley delivers flashbacks of a privileged if often loveless childhood, her failed teenage marriage, and her unusually adventurous life with Veronica's father, a dreamy geologist who eventually abandoned the family. All of this, including her therapist's Jungian admonitions, are connected in some way; but even as the reader sometimes wishes Hadley's writings were less fevered, one must admire her honesty and industriousness in producing a rather monumental work. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 15, 1997

ISBN: 1-885983-16-6

Page Count: 625

Publisher: Turtle Point

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more