TROLLOPE

A BIOGRAPHY

Finding the relationship between the life and the art is one of the major challenges to a biographer of Trollope. As editor of the collected works (62 volumes including 47 novels) and the letters, Hall (English/Bronx Community College) may be one of the few scholars to have read all of them. He concludes that the vulgar, outspoken, quarrelsome persona of the real Trollope was as much an invention as the narrative voices in the novels, a mask to protect the tenderhearted, lonely little boy who survived in the ursine body of the adult. Unlike that of Dickens, Trollope's wretched childhood never enters his novels. One of seven children, all but two of whom died in childhood, he was neglected by his penniless father and his flighty mother. Unpopular and inept as a day student at Harrow, Trollope left school to work for the post office at age 19, married, fathered two sons, and published his first novel at age 32. Between 1859 and 1867, when he retired from the p.o. as an executive, he traveled to Egypt, Australia, and the US, then settled near London to enjoy life as literary gentleman. He entertained, hunted, attended London clubs, and wrote for three hours a day, every day, starting at 5:30 A.M., 25 words every 15 minutes. His productivity, his disciplined and methodical approach, and his self-deprecating belief that writing is a craft comparable to shoemaking led others to question his status as an artist. Even his familiar topic seemed uninspired: the romance of everyday life among the middle and upper classes, focusing on the nuances of feeling and conscience that the stormy, impulsive Trollope seemed incapable of. But in the fictions of the Barchester series and the Pallisers, Trollope vindicated himself, providing models of loyalty and friendship, manners and values for the very classes that had rejected him as a child. Clear, direct, cautious, respectful: a useful companion to the more interesting novels and letters—but between the masks and the fictions, the real Trollope is yet to be discovered. (Twenty-seven illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-812627-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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