An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.

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ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS

A BIOGRAPHY OF ROCK HUDSON

A thoughtful exploration of the career and elusive private life of Rock Hudson (1925-1985).

It’s surprising that in the three decades since Hudson’s death, there has been little written about him that could be considered comprehensive. Previous biographies came from past lovers and friends, and each seemed to have an agenda, often salacious. Griffin (A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli, 2010) goes a long way toward rectifying this issue, casting a respectful light on some fresh as well as familiar details. The author begins with Hudson’s difficult childhood: Born Roy Scherer, he and his mother were abandoned by his father when he was just 5, and his mother would eventually remarry an abusive alcoholic. Griffin then moves on to his various jobs and his brief stint in the Navy before he arrived in Hollywood. Like Hudson’s friend Marilyn Monroe, his early recognition in Hollywood was largely attributed to his exceptional good looks, and he also experienced sexual exploitation on his path to stardom. He was taken under the wing of the powerful yet notoriously lecherous agent Henry Willson. After appearing in several largely forgettable films and signing a long-term contract with Universal Studios, Hudson established his mark as an accomplished actor and romantic lead under the guidance of talented directors such as Douglas Sirk and George Stevens. Yet it wasn’t until Pillow Talk (1959) that Hudson found his sweet spot as a versatile comedic actor. In the 1970s, he found renewed fame on TV as the star of the hit series McMillan & Wife. Griffin pays equal attention to Hudson’s private life as a sexually active yet closeted gay man, and he explores his complex relationships with both sexes. Throughout, he provides a balanced, multifaceted view of his subject. By the end of his life, having disclosed his exposure to HIV, his professional and private lives were forced to merge. Yet his death would bring much-needed recognition and funding to the AIDS epidemic.

An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-240885-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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

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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