An appealing success story and a wide-eyed homage to Burgundy.

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THE ROAD TO BURGUNDY

THE UNLIKELY STORY OF AN AMERICAN MAKING WINE AND A NEW LIFE IN FRANCE

A family man recounts the improbable journey that made him a critically acclaimed winemaker in France.

Walker never understood the fuss over the drink around which an entire culture and industry was built in his native California. It wasn’t until a trip to Italy on which he proposed to his wife, a grounded and supportive voice throughout the story, that he fell in love with a restaurant’s house wine. The experience turned him into a self-proclaimed wine geek who bought gadgets, joined online forums and desperately tried to enjoy Bordeaux. Upon accidentally discovering Burgundy wines at a store tasting, Walker and his wife promptly fell in love with this special wine that tasted like “something living and undisturbed in nature.” With a baby on the way, Walker quit his stifling job in finance to pursue his dream of making wine. Like the Burgundy monks of centuries past, he sought to shepherd grapes into wine that reflected terroir, instead of overemploying modern techniques. He gained a few months’ experience at small California wineries before contacting courtiers (grape brokers) and making two trips to Burgundy, the second of which landed him a deal for grapes from Chambertin, one of the world’s most sought-after vineyards, from which no American had ever produced. Walker acknowledges the somewhat miraculous nature of this event, given his inexperience and outsider status, with self-deprecating thrill. From here, the book shakes its initial navel-gazing drag and becomes far more engaging and educational as it acquires characters, plot and pace (even if the writing remains pedestrian). Through diligence and luck, Walker navigated the ins and outs of the local culture and wine business, raised money, protected his wines from the jealous sabotage of another winemaker, processed grapes from three harvests by himself and transferred the wine into caves in a literal race to the finish.

An appealing success story and a wide-eyed homage to Burgundy.

Pub Date: July 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59240-812-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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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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