A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman.

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A historical novel about the once-famous American socialite Dorothy Hale.

Former NBC News producer Hamilton has chosen a subject of her debut novel who’s likely best remembered today as the focus of a famous 1939 painting by Frida Kahlo. In the 1920s and ’30s, the intelligent, attractive, and sophisticated Hale ran in glamorous circles that included future member of Congress and ambassador Clare Boothe Brokaw (later Luce). Hale tried to break into a career in show business, and history has largely judged her as a thwarted figure—someone whose lack of success in entertainment or in love (she was divorced once and had several ill-starred affairs) eventually drove her to leap from her Central Park South apartment window to her death—the very act that Kahlo immortalized in her aforementioned work, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale. In this novel, Hamilton sets out to tell a much fuller story, taking readers on a lightly fictionalized tour of Hale’s upbringing and spending a satisfying amount of time on her complex, loving second marriage to artist Gardner Hale. The narrative also lavishes attention on Dorothy’s increasingly deep friendship with Clare, who manages to do in this novel what she always managed to do in real life—get all the best lines: “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount,” she writes to Dorothy at one point. At another moment that showcases Hamilton’s ear for conversation and talent for pacing, Gardner tells Dorothy, “You know of course that I am happier than I’ve ever been and will remain so if it’s just the two of us forevermore,” which prompts Dorothy to remember one of Luce’s remarks: “Forevermore is shorter than you think.” Overall, the author’s narrative is smooth and invitingly readable, wearing its clearly considerable research lightly; her version of Dorothy’s doomed relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s adviser and Works Progress Administration administrator Harry Hopkins is surprisingly gripping. The narrative never stoops to easy renditions, and as a result, Dorothy emerges as both a charismatic and vulnerable figure.

A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman.

Pub Date: March 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-663272-5

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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This overview of a tragic war soon reveals itself to be an extremely biased account of a pivotal time in US-Indian relations. Old West historian Robinson begins with the events leading up to the final war between the Lakota and the US Army in 187677, a war mostly remembered for the Army's humiliating defeats, such as Custer's Last Stand at Little Bighorn. As Robinson points out, the campaign left the Lakota and northern Cheyenne nations decimated and confined to government-controlled reservations. The misconception of history is not difficult to understand: Whites have tended to exaggerate their losses at the hands of Indians in order to justify taking Indian land. Robinson's agenda is a little more complex: He seems to want to glorify whites rather than set the record straight. He uses the testimonies of almost exclusively white witnesses, writing that Indians' accounts are not reliable because ``their fear of government reprisal, while unfounded, was very real.'' (Perhaps Robinson doesn't consider over 200 years of hostilities and broken treaties to constitute a foundation for fear.) The author often presents the statements of whites with little commentary, suggesting that they are accurate (even calling one derogatory comment about Indians a ``candid appraisal''). When he does offer comment, it is to condone shocking utterances, such as Gen. William T. Sherman's remark, ``The more I see of these Indians the more convinced I am that they all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers''which Robinson kindly terms ``the most extreme expression of a profound dilemma.'' And while Indians attack settlers with ``appalling ferocity,'' no comment is offered as the US Army attacks village after village filled with Indian women and children. An outrageous whitewash. (16 pages b&w photos, 3 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43025-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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Connections between erotic liberation and political freedom are cryptically and rather numbingly explored in this over-the-top rendering of emotional delirium (originally published in 1991) by the author of The Fourth World (see p. 1368). It's set in Santiago during the Pinochet regime, but mainly in the disturbed thoughts of a woman who imagines for herself a potent lover, Manuel, from the rural South (Pucatrihue), who presumably embodies pure sexuality uncorrupted by political or social pressures. Images of sexual violence and death, involving a romantically troubled friend named Francisca (or is Francisca the narrator herself?) possess her, as the imaginary Manuel cannot. Involving herself in local reform activities, she survives a virus that sweeps through the city, nightmarish visions of a ``flock of demented birds,'' and other, less specified threats, and heads south in search of, if not Manuel, at least imaginative surcease from the social imperatives her mind and body tell her she must reject. The whole has the logic of image or dream, but it may well frustrate most readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 1995

ISBN: 1-85242-287-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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