A poignantly compelling memoir about family, mental health, and revisiting the past.

THE BRIDESMAID'S DAUGHTER

FROM GRACE KELLY'S WEDDING TO A WOMEN'S SHELTER—SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT MY MOTHER

A public relations executive tells the story of her once-glamorous mother’s decline into mental illness.

Giles knew her mother, Carolyn Scott, as a free-spirited but socially isolated Long Island homemaker who was close to Grace Kelly. She also knew her as the woman who insisted to doctors that her youngest daughter was too sickly to attend school. Many years later, when the author saw a newspaper story about how her now homeless and mentally ill mother had been a bridesmaid at Kelly’s wedding, she realized that Carolyn’s early life was a mystery to her. Desperate for insight, Giles began to research her mother's past. Carolyn left her “hardscrabble hometown” in Ohio for New York City when she was 19. She took up residence at the famous Barbizon Hotel for women, where she met and befriended aspiring actress Kelly in 1947. Carolyn started modeling, eventually signing on with the then-fledgling Ford Modeling Agency. Though she married in 1949, she continued to model while Grace began a brief but spectacularly successful career as a film actress, which ended with her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco. As she drew nearer to 30, Carolyn devoted herself to motherhood full-time. But after the traumatic C-section birth of her third and final child, she gradually withdrew into the distant, fragile figure of Giles’ memories. Only after consulting with doctors about the circumstances around that birth was the author able to ascertain the truth: though diagnosed with schizophrenia, Carolyn had in fact suffered from postpartum psychosis that had deteriorated over time. Giles suggests that because the condition was not well understood at that time, Carolyn would not have received proper care. But had treatment existed, recovery—and a normal life for her and family—would have been possible. Illustrated throughout with photos, the narrative celebrates a lifelong female friendship while shedding light on a powerful, if at times painful and complex, mother-daughter bond.

A poignantly compelling memoir about family, mental health, and revisiting the past.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-11549-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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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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