A memoir that captures the opportunity that lies in loss.

Between Fires


A woman’s triumphant tale of her struggle to rebuild herself after a disaster.

“They say that men fall in love through their eyes and women through their ears and there’s probably some truth in that,” reflects Zdenek (The Right Brain Experience, 1995, etc.) in this powerful memoir. The Santa Ana winds of 1961 blew fiercely and mercilessly through the author’s neighborhood in California, bringing smoky gusts of flame and winds. She managed to escape with her two small daughters, Gina and Tamara, as her home burned to the ground, destroying everything inside. Marilee couldn’t reach her husband, Leonard, and the day passed in agony until he showed up at the motel where she and the kids were staying. Her relief at having him back intermingled with her devastation at the loss of their home, despite Leonard’s gentle reminder that “It’s just things that burned.” Surrounded by her loved ones, the author hoped that the worst was behind her—but less than three weeks later, she awoke to the terrifying sound of Leonard gasping for breath. He died hours later, and at 27 years old, the author was a widow with two small children. Her love for Leonard, an older man who’d been married before, was one that she never believed she’d have again. But not long after his death, she met Al, a kind, caring man whose affection healed her wounds. They were married for 45 years before he died, once again leaving her brokenhearted, but she concluded once more that “We cry, we grieve, we move on.” Zdenek’s perspective on her life is uplifting and inspiring, despite the often tragic content of her story. Her exceptional prose will draw readers in as they wait to see how she will survive her many tribulations. The people in Zdenek’s life emerge as flawed but endearing characters, and the love she feels for them is apparent and moving; for example, regarding her grandmother, she writes, “When I’m in my eighties and nineties, I hope I can live as creative and constructive a life as those I’ve written about here.” Her memoir captures love, loss, and renewal in a way that will touch anyone who has been through those challenges.

A memoir that captures the opportunity that lies in loss.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-22809-8

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Curious Mind Media, a division of Right-Brain Resources

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2015

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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