A touching personal delineation of divided loyalties and riven hearts.

THE UNLIKELY SETTLER

Bittersweet memoir of a multicultural marriage riding the perilous shoals of Jerusalem’s ethnic split.

In the 1990s, Bangladesh-born author Pelham, a journalist with BBC World Service, married Leo, a London Jew whose job as a roving Middle East reporter took the family from Morocco to Syria to Jerusalem. From the outset, the author was deeply conflicted about her own divided upbringing and balked at the thought of living in strife-ridden Jerusalem: The daughter of a Bengali Muslim father, Pelham considered herself more Hindu and Indian; while respecting her husband’s Jewish faith, she balked at conversion. Leo’s work with international NGOs took him often into Gaza, while Pelham was keenly aware of the Israeli slight to Muslim culture, music and Arabic language. Frequently going to Ramallah to visit her Arab friends and conduct interviews, she realized she was entering a thriving world that Israelis knew little about. The children, too, were conflicted: The elder boy, who attended an Anglo international school, resisted learning Hebrew and hated letting others know his Jewish last name; the younger daughter adored her Israeli “peace” nursery school and broke out into patriotic songs in Hebrew. Israel’s “South Africa syndrome” exacerbated the underlying trouble in the marriage, and the enforced vigilance, entrenchment and pressure both oppressed her and prodded her to “reinvent” herself. She quit her position and became a stringer at the Jerusalem bureau, which took her on an interview to a refugee camp, where Palestinian children spit on her daughter. Immersed in her documentary work on honor killings, she was led deeply into Palestinian life, while “the rotating cycle of doom” both within Jerusalem and the marriage caused violent scenes and recriminations between the couple, who loved each other but could similarly not find peace, until the birth of a third child.

A touching personal delineation of divided loyalties and riven hearts.

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59051-683-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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