MAY SARTON

VOL. I: SELECTED LETTERS, 1916-1954

Charged with energy and with a cast of characters that includes major 20th-century literati, this is the first volume of what will likely be a massive compendium of Sarton's letters. Sarton was a copious letter writer; according to Sherman (who edited a miscellany of Sarton's writings, Among the Usual Days) she set aside Sunday mornings for her correspondence, ``a religious service devoted to friendship.'' This book begins with some childish notes to her father that foreshadow the direct and revealing style of her later missives. At 15, she was writing to Eva Le Gallienne, declaring her dream of being an actress and pleading for Le Gallienne's advice and help. The direct approach worked; Sarton went on to be associated with Le Gallienne's acting company for many years. Many of the letters collected here are to her parents, from whom she was frequently separated, even as a child. They often discuss money problems but also celebrate such events as the first publication of her poems. Other correspondents include Elizabeth Bowen, Julian Huxley (her lover before Sarton fell in love with his wife, Juliette), Virginia Woolf, Louise Bogan, Diana Trilling, Marianne Moore, and Muriel Rukeyser, some of whom were her lovers. The letters to them and to less well-known friends, brimming with enthusiasm, are full of news of acquaintances, of books and poems, of critics and reviews, of dinners and teas, of Atlantic crossings, and of love and longing for friends from whom she is separated. She shares delight at accomplishments, disappointment at setbacks, and eloquent descriptions of place. Included is a rather startling (in context) letter to Bogan discussing women's homosexual relationships. In the letters of the 1950s, the resentments that colored some of Sarton's journals begin to surface. Also included in this volume is an appendix of unpublished poems, and some letters in the original French. Certainly a must for Sarton scholars, but also a pleasure for Sarton's loyal readers. (50 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-03954-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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