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. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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 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...


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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