A well-researched, glitzy, and flawed history of conspicuous consumption.

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RITZ AND ESCOFFIER

THE HOTELIER, THE CHEF, AND THE RISE OF THE LEISURE CLASS

A new perspective on the rise of the leisure class.

In his latest book, former Travel + Leisure features editor Barr (Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste, 2013) dives into the many aspects of the restaurant industry during the belle epoque era that laid the groundwork for today’s fine-dining experience. The author focuses on the unlikely union of two entrepreneurs: Swiss hotelier César Ritz (1850-1918) and French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935). The two men shared an insatiable appetite for culinary success, but it wasn’t just the food they were concerned about. By working together to bring the now-renowned Savoy Hotel to its current glory, Ritz and Escoffier introduced epicurean principles to a general public that had no point of reference to understand such lifestyles. “The nouveaux riches had arrived,” writes Barr, “but until now, there had never been anywhere for them to go to announce their arrival. They had rarely been invited to the exclusive dinner parties or private clubs of high society. But now there was the Savoy. The restaurant may have served the most refined, daring, and sometimes shockingly expensive food in the world, but it was not exclusive….The Savoy offered a new and democratic kind of luxury, and cooking was very much at the center of it.” In this process, Ritz and Escoffier created a whole new breed of city dwellers dedicated to “a life of pleasure, a theater of luxury.” The two would later go on to create the Hotel Ritz in Paris. As in his previous book, it’s clear that Barr has done extensive research to master his topic, and the book serves as an expansive resource for those interested in learning more about the turn-of-the-century leisure class. However, the never-ending name-dropping becomes distracting and tiresome. The story would have benefited from more social and cultural analysis and fewer fabulous cameos.

A well-researched, glitzy, and flawed history of conspicuous consumption.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8629-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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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 eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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