Though the first half of the book does little more than portray the pampered life of the upper-crust children who had to...

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DAUGHTER OF EMPIRE

MY LIFE AS A MOUNTBATTEN

The story of Lady Hicks (India Remembered, 2007, etc.), who lived the kind of life we think of as only existing in books and movies, with nannies, governesses and all the trappings of the English elite.

The author’s mother, Edwina Mountbatten, didn’t really take to parenting, and she often took off for extended trips around the world. She also managed to lose the name of the hotel in Budapest where she’d dropped her children and nannies for safekeeping during the Abyssinian crisis. Hicks’ father, Lord Mountbatten, accepted Edwina’s string of lovers with barely a mention. The author’s description of her years with her parents in India during its transfer to independence is entirely reminiscent of her father’s TV program; even the egocentric tone of voice is exactly like his. However, the tone and atmosphere of self-importance is not altogether surprising, given that Hicks was cousin to the queen; could trace her roots back 900 years; owned a home in London on Park Lane, at Sussex Downs and a 6,000-acre estate in Hampshire. Her family was close enough for her to be named as head bridesmaid for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and to accompany her on the fateful world tour that was so sadly cut short. The author’s description of the new queen’s reaction to the fate suddenly thrust upon her reflects a woman who was already the regal woman we now know.

Though the first half of the book does little more than portray the pampered life of the upper-crust children who had to curtsey to grandmother, Hicks’ love of India and the description of her year with the queen’s world tour make it worth reading. Many fans of Downton Abbey will certainly enjoy it.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3381-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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