Insightful and intriguing, Gordon’s book offers a rare glimpse into a privileged world—and twisted personal...

THE PHANTOM OF FIFTH AVENUE

THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE AND SCANDALOUS DEATH OF HEIRESS HUGUETTE CLARK

Magazine writer Gordon (Journalism/New York Univ.; Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach, 2008) provides an illuminating biography of the reclusive, and largely forgotten, American heiress Huguette Clark (1906-2011).

The youngest daughter of a ruthless Montana copper magnate and former U.S. senator, Clark was heir to wealth rivaled only by that of other American industrialist families such as the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Vanderbilts. As a child, Clark lived in a beautiful home in the most exclusive district in Paris, cocooned in “unimaginable luxury.” She and her beloved older sister, Andrée, had everything from nannies and tutors to unlimited access to the best of French and European fine art. But Huguette was a shy child who “hated being on display.” However much her parents’ wealth sheltered her from the bitter realities of life, it could not shield her from the pain of her sister’s untimely death at age 17 or the ensuing loneliness. Money, in fact, put her in the media limelight she hated, as became apparent after her brief 1928 marriage ended in divorce. From that point forward, Clark withdrew from public life and pursued her one enduring love, art. She remained close to her mother, who she believed had been unfairly treated by her much older half siblings. After a final retreat to her Fifth Avenue apartment in the 1970s, she communicated with the few people still remaining in her life via letter and telephone. In 1991, a bout with cancer eventually forced her out of seclusion into the hospital. After treatment, she lived as a full-time patient until her death in 2011 while dispensing, of her own free will, millions of dollars in largesse to those who cared for (and also manipulated) her.

Insightful and intriguing, Gordon’s book offers a rare glimpse into a privileged world—and twisted personal psychology—beyond imagining.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-1263-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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