Well-written memoir covering the founding of an unconventional church that might not appeal to the majority of Christian...


A Life Shared

Cornell’s debut memoir recalls her and her husband opening their home while finding their own ways to worship and spread the Gospel.

Born to unconventional parents in London, Cornell grew up with a love of the dramatic arts and surrounded by a world of séances and spiritualism. As a young woman, she rushed into marriage with an equally unconventional young man, only to see it end in disaster. “How could I have been so foolish as to ignore good advice from wise people or even to ignore the truth in my own heart?” she says of that first marriage. But from that moment, she found herself drawn to the church in a new way. Soon, a friend introduced her to handsome Tony, and she was once again caught in a whirlwind engagement, this one with much better results. After Cornell experienced the presence of Jesus in her room, Tony also felt personally moved by the Holy Spirit, leading the two on a search for more charismatic and interdenominational experiences than those provided by the Anglican Church. They extended these more “Spirit-filled ministries” and philosophies into their own home by opening it up to an unmarried pregnant woman, a struggling teenager, and a nurse’s family. Finding fulfillment in such openness, they soon purchased a larger abode, Sunbury House, which they opened to a variety of those in need. “In Sunbury House,” Cornell writes, “supernatural answers to prayer became the norm.” However, it was not until tragedy struck with the death of Cornell’s oldest son, Philip, that Sunbury House began to expand into a full-fledged ministry, taking them abroad and touching more people in need. Just as their particular style of worship and biblical interpretation stirred up controversy with locals accustomed to Anglican teachings, some Christian readers might take issue with Cornell’s experiences and stances. Her belief that her own sin, and perhaps even inviting her parents into her home, led to the death of her son may be a difficult idea to relate to or understand. Additionally, the many divine experiences might seem a bit too easy; God sometimes responds to her questions out loud and plainly, which can feel far-fetched rather than spiritual. Nevertheless, the book’s prose is clear and elegant, and in the end, readers will appreciate the couple’s dedication to their religion and to helping others.

Well-written memoir covering the founding of an unconventional church that might not appeal to the majority of Christian readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4525-8401-0

Page Count: 274

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2015

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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.


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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