ON BEING 40(ISH)

Candid, often charming revelations from a host of articulate women.

Fifteen women share their thoughts about life’s transitions.

In her debut book, journalist Mead gathers essays by women in their late 30s to early 50s, reflecting on love, friendship, careers, family, dating, and self-image, among many other issues that have become important as they face a challenging new decade of their lives. Although the editor underscores the “divergent voices” in the collection, the majority of the contributors are white, middle-class, successful writers (one, Sujean Rim, is an illustrator who offers a cartoon about giving up skinny jeans). They do, however, reveal diverse experiences: Meghan Daum, memoirist columnist for the New York Times Book Review, has settled into single life and a fruitful career in Manhattan; still, she feels a “current of constant low-grade shock…about how old I’ve managed to become.” KJ Dell’Antonia, editor of the New York Times’ “Motherlode” column, apologizes for not answering an email message because of the many more important tasks (buying bread, snuggling her son) that occupy her time. Essayist Sloane Crosley assesses the changes in her middle-aged face. Two particularly moving pieces concern friendship: Catherine Newman’s chronicle of the outfits she and her best friend wore, beginning in kindergarten, in 1972, and ending in 2015, when Newman cherishes her friend’s tunics, yoga pants, and Ugg boots after she died of ovarian cancer. “I am wearing my heart on my sleeve,” she writes, “my memories like a crazy quilt of loss.” It took a shattered bone for novelist Allison Winn Scotch, who prided herself on being stubbornly independent, to see that friends and family can be extraordinarily caring, “more worthy than you realized, even when you already found them worthy enough.” The essays are interspersed with brief remarks about the biggest surprise, most important lesson, or most salient mantra gleaned from getting older and, the writers hope, wiser. “Everything looks better, feels better, and is way more manageable in the morning,” offers Lee Woodruff, whose husband’s (journalist Bob Woodruff) roadside bomb injury was the subject of one of her memoirs.

Candid, often charming revelations from a host of articulate women.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7212-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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