A wealth of entertaining information in an ultimately incomplete account.

A detailed and well-documented but limited account of the great loves of Charles Dickens (1812–1870).

In his debut, Garnett (English/Gettysburg Coll.) combines scholarly detective work, biographical criticism and imagination to show how Dickens’ three major romantic attachments would shape his life and art. The first was Maria Beadnell, the local rich girl who spurned him; on the rebound, he married Catherine Hogarth, who had nothing in common with him (except the 10 children she would go on to bear him). It was Catherine’s younger sister, the delicate Mary, who became his next obsession; her death at 17 made her, for Dickens, an immortal vision of angelic purity. Both Mary and Maria would appear in David Copperfield as the polar opposites of the title character’s love life. Garnett devotes most of his book to Dickens’ longtime affair with the young actress Ellen “Nelly” Ternan, an open secret to his close intimates but one strenuously concealed from the Victorian world. Although the story has been told before, Garnett maps out this lengthy liaison in close detail, based on a mountain of circumstantial evidence from Dickens’ coded diaries, novels and whatever wasn’t censored from his surviving correspondence. Although the author makes a credible case that Ellen was the true love of the writer’s life, he doesn’t tell the whole story. Catherine is all but absent from the book, and Garnett says little about how Dickens’ selfish behavior throughout this episode would alienate his children.

A wealth of entertaining information in an ultimately incomplete account.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60598-395-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012



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

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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