Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to...



VOLUME III: 1955-1991

The third and final volume of Sherry’s superb life of the English novelist and man of letters, a monumental work published over the last 15 years.

The first moments of Sherry’s (Literature/Trinity Univ.) last installment find Graham Greene in middle age, and none too happy about it. His energies seem boundless: he is being published regularly, earning a fine income, smoking opium, being sought out for opinion and commentary. But the world is wearying Greene: here, ten years after the end of WWII and his work in the shadow world of military intelligence, he seems depressed at the apparent lack of adventure that has come with his success. Writes Sherry: “Journeys were Greene’s means of controlling depression. He often came out of melancholy with a sudden eagerness for new ventures.” The new ventures Sherry describes are many, worthy of volumes of their own (some of which Greene got around to writing): he travels to Vietnam, finding the material for The Quiet American, and to Cuba, capturing the Fidelista revolution in Our Man in Havana and, incidentally, smuggling socks and sweaters for the mountain-bound revolutionaries; he finds new love outside the house; he takes a place on the board of one of England’s best publishing houses and becomes a vigorous editor, acquiring Charlie Chaplin’s memoirs for publication. Chalk all this up to the legendary, emulation-worthy Greene. Sherry gives us another Greene, though, who is rather more disagreeable, beset, as a Catholic, by doubts over the existence of God, given to quarreling with protégés and admirers over trivial matters, so convinced of his greatness that he thinks nothing of overriding his fellow judges in a literary prize competition to champion a second-tier writer whose work just happens to resemble early Graham Greene. Not all shared Greene’s self-assessment, least of all the members of the Swedish Academy, who denied Greene the one thing he seemingly craved more than anything else: the Nobel Prize in literature.

Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to admirers of Greene’s work and to students of contemporary letters.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-670-03142-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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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.


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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