A cautionary tale that could help readers minimize the trauma of a contentious divorce.

Abuse & Betrayal

THE CAUTIONARY TRUE STORY OF DIVORCE, MISTAKES, LIES, AND LEGAL ABUSE

An autobiographical account of an ugly divorce and the insidious effects of parental alienation.

“Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Leo Tolstoy famously pointed out in his novel Anna Karenina. Joseph, once the proud patriarch of an unhappy family, would likely agree. Years ago, the author and his then-girlfriend Diane married and quickly started a family. Joseph writes that he was a good provider, but Diane grew restless, stepping out to local bars and plotting wild getaways with her girlfriends. Joseph objected to her lifestyle, her materialism and her social climbing, and they eventually separated. In an attempt to avoid further conflict, Joseph didn’t seek any legal help in negotiating their divorce agreement, which gave Diane primary custody of his daughters. It’s a decision that later haunted him, as he says that his ex-wife gradually drove a wedge between him and his children. He writes that she got a restraining order against him after a seemingly innocuous encounter, and later, she made false reports to the police. In the end, he says, Diane’s skillful manipulations destroyed his relationship with his children. This memoir is a sobering look at all that can go wrong when a marriage ends acrimoniously. Unfortunately, its tone is often one of anger. Although the author admits he’s made some mistakes, he writes that Diane is an “evil genius” who bears sole responsibility for the marriage’s collapse; he’s also writes of what he sees as “a master conspiracy” against him, in which Diane’s boyfriend, the local police and family-court judges are all players. However, the lessons of this story will be clear for anyone contemplating a divorce. Readers will appreciate the importance of retaining an attorney to make sure that divorce terms and custody arrangements are clear, and they will also get a clearer understanding of the signs of parental alienation.

A cautionary tale that could help readers minimize the trauma of a contentious divorce.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494845940

Page Count: 178

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

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One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

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THE BEST OF ME

A welcome greatest-hits package from Sedaris.

It’s not easy to pick out fact from fiction in the author’s sidelong takes on family, travel, relationships, and other topics. He tends toward the archly droll in either genre, both well represented in this gathering, always with a perfectly formed crystallization of our various embarrassments and discomforts. An example is a set piece that comes fairly early in the anthology: the achingly funny “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” with its spot-on reminiscence of taking a French class with a disdainful instructor, a roomful of clueless but cheerful students, and Sedaris himself, who mangles the language gloriously, finally coming to understand his teacher’s baleful utterances (“Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section”) without being able to reply in any way that does not destroy the language of Voltaire and Proust. Sedaris’ register ranges from doggerel to deeply soulful, as when he reflects on the death of a beloved sibling and its effects on a family that has been too often portrayed as dysfunctional when it’s really just odd: “The word,” he writes, “is overused….My father hoarding food inside my sister’s vagina would be dysfunctional. His hoarding it beneath the bathroom sink, as he is wont to do, is, at best, quirky and at worst unsanitary.” There’s not a dud in the mix, though Sedaris is always at his best when he’s both making fun of himself and satirizing some larger social trend (of dog-crazy people, for instance: “They’re the ones who, when asked if they have children, are likely to answer, ‘A black Lab and a sheltie-beagle mix named Tuckahoe’ ”). It’s a lovely mélange by a modern Mark Twain who is always willing to set himself up as a shlemiel in the interest of a good yarn.

One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-62824-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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