A blithe, entertaining collection that will surely delight Binchy’s many fans.

MAEVE'S TIMES

IN HER OWN WORDS

Newspaper pieces by a prolific novelist and playwright.

Binchy (Chestnut Street, 2014, etc.) began her writing career as a journalist for the Irish Times, starting out as women’s editor, from 1968 to 1973, and continuing as columnist, feature writer and reporter based in the newspaper’s London office; in 1988, she resigned a full-time position but contributed regularly until her death in 2012. This selection of her work represents Binchy’s eclectic interests, infectious sense of humor and wry take on social change. In early pieces, she reflected on her experiences as a waitress and choosing underwear in Australia. She didn’t much like her body (she was always overweight) and compared herself to those more slender and well dressed. In 1976, she tried a week of self-improvement, following suggestions in a women’s magazine, but failed to transform herself into one of the “new brand of unreal woman.” Nevertheless, she was a successful writer, and she also gleefully reported on the doings of the royals. In 1973, she was at Westminster Abbey (“lit up like an operating theatre”) for the wedding of Princess Anne to Mark Phillips, where Grace Kelly was among the guests, “staring into space, looking like she always looked, kind of immaculate.” In 1981, her subjects were the fairy-tale couple, Charles and Diana. Binchy was not surprised when they separated in 1987: “[T]here were always aspects of the royal romance that spelled danger from the word go.” She noticed that Sarah Ferguson, “a bit pudgy for a princess,” was on a strict diet. Unable to attend, she watched Kate and William’s wedding on TV: “I miss the magic of the English losing all their reserve,” she noted ruefully. A bit intimidated by Samuel Beckett, she nevertheless produced an insightful portrait of her compatriot, with his “spikey hair” and “ludicrous energy.”

A blithe, entertaining collection that will surely delight Binchy’s many fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-35345-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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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

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