This is no ordinary book. A ``spiritual companion'' to Remembering the Bone House (1989), it continues Mairs's intensely personal interior journey as it explores issues of faith and social conscience with edgy honesty and poise. Most often, Mairs begins, religious belief is something you keep to yourself, but, in any case, life forces the construction of a moral sense, however haphazard its defining moments. The author's own convictions evolved gradually, along with a creeping feminism, until both she and husband George left behind the comfortable shelter of Protestant childhood labels and celebrated a Mass marking their conversion to Catholicism. Now they belong to the Community of Christ of the Desert and pursue the social-justice commitment articulated by Leonardo Boff, making political choices independent of official Church policy. Theirs is a spiritual quest, a profound collaboration, a willed engagement with people in need: ``God was here, and the law was unembellished: take care of each other.'' Mairs's theology is by no means traditional, with unusual references to God (``she,'' always) and a stance that's ``both pro- choice and anti-abortion,'' but her expression of religious belief is a powerful statement presented, as in previous books, in the context of family history and ongoing calamity—George's third bout with melanoma, her own increased physical deterioration from MS. Surpassing earlier efforts, she writes with extraordinary grace of ``memory's malarial tenacity,'' of ``the passionate tenderness children evoke'' in their caregivers, or of the approach of death as ``a kind of conversion experience.'' Consoling and poignant: a Catholic feminist moral inquiry that resists New Age simplifications and shares its message of deep faith with courage and dignity.

Pub Date: May 19, 1993

ISBN: 0-8070-7056-4

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

Close Quickview