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A sparkling biography and cultural history.

An illuminating portrait of a Victorian wife and mother who was rescued from silence.

Recipient of the inaugural Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, an award honoring the esteemed Australian biographer, historian Hoban makes her debut as a biographer with an absorbing, deeply perceptive life of Julia Sorell Arnold (1826-1888). Grandmother to novelist Aldous Huxley and his brother, biologist Julian Huxley; sister-in-law of poet and critic Matthew Arnold; and mother of bestselling novelist Mary (Mrs. Humphry) Ward, Julia, after her marriage to Tom Arnold, became ensconced in one of the most famous families in 19th-century England. As the “ruling belle” of Hobart, Australia, she caught Tom’s eye in February 1850, and the romance quickly progressed; in less a month, they were engaged. Two months later, they married. Although Julia often found Tom’s jealousy irritating and knew that he believed husbands should master their wives, she was enamored by his “earnest, sensitive nature, his deeply spiritual temperament, and his self-deprecating humour.” For his part, he absolutely adored her. Drawing on archival sources, histories, and memoirs, Hoban creates a revelatory, sympathetic portrait of a woman whose married life was undermined by financial pressures and a rift between husband and wife that proved unbridgeable. In Tasmania and later in Ireland and England, the couple was saddled with debt; and through the years, with eight children to support, debts increased. Money was an enduring problem, but religion even greater. Tom’s early skepticism took a sudden turn when he decided to convert to Roman Catholicism, a resolve that Julia met “with a torrent of hate and despair.” The abyss between Anglicans and Catholics was profound. “Religion,” writes the author, “was never simply about belief. It was about position, about economic stability, about possible trajectories, not just for Tom and Julia, but also for their children.” Risking the family’s well-being seemed to Julia unconscionable, but she struggled with her decision to be, as Tom put it, “a revolutionary wife or a Christian one.” She chose, at last, hard-won independence.

A sparkling biography and cultural history.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947534-82-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribe

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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