Fascinating reading about an intriguing woman.

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THE GODDESS POSE

THE AUDACIOUS LIFE OF INDRA DEVI, THE WOMAN WHO HELPED BRING YOGA TO THE WEST

Investigative journalist Goldberg (The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, 2009, etc.) fluidly explores the extraordinary life of Indra Devi (1899-2002), the woman who helped transform the ancient Indian discipline of yoga into a worldwide phenomenon.

Born Eugenia Peterson to a noble family in Riga, Latvia, Devi’s early life was marked by instability and separations from family members. Her father vanished after divorcing Devi’s mother, who pursued a peripatetic life as an actress. After graduating from school in 1916, Devi followed her mother from Moscow to Berlin, where both immersed themselves in cabaret culture. In 1926, Devi had a life-changing encounter with Jiddu Krishnamurti, who introduced her to the Indian-inflected spirituality known as theosophy. She traveled to India, a place that so beguiled her with its “constant sense of transcendence” that she found she could no longer live comfortably in the West. She returned to India, where she continued her involvement in esoteric spirituality and began serious study of yoga, then an all-male practice. Yet she was able to charm some of the discipline’s leading exponents, including Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, into teaching her. Just before the outbreak of World War II, she moved to Shanghai with her diplomat husband, where she began teaching yoga and going by the name Indira (later changed to Indra) Devi. By 1947, she had found her way to California. There, she gravitated into the orbit of cultural luminary Aldous Huxley, taught yoga in Hollywood, and, after a divorce, married a homeopathic physician named Siegfried Knauer. Devi opened a yoga school in Mexico and became close to the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. Eventually, she moved to Buenos Aires, where she continued her work as a yoga teacher and lecturer. Goldberg’s book, which uses material she uncovered about Devi on four continents, is not only thoroughly researched; it also offers insights into a magnificently elusive figure, the culture she loved, and the yogic practice she bequeathed to the West.

Fascinating reading about an intriguing woman.

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-307-59351-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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