Though it often reads like an extended society gossip column, the narrative is studded with enough trivia and name-dropping...

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A DAY IN THE LIFE

ONE FAMILY, THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE AND THE END OF THE ’60S

Journalist and screenwriter Greenfield (Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, 2006, etc.) pens a eulogy for the 1960s with his portrayal of the ascent and downfall of two upper-class wanderers.

Descended from old money, 20-somethings Susan “Puss” Coriat and Tommy Weber lived off their trust funds, rubbing elbows with Britain’s elite as they discovered their callings—Tommy as a race-car driver, Puss as an actress. By 1964, the couple was married with two baby boys, and they soon fell into the drug experimentation of the mid-’60s. On a trip to the Greek islands with her children in tow, Puss suffered a schizophrenic episode. With her institutionalized, Tommy took charge of the children, soon befriending Keith Richards and staying with the Rolling Stones in France during the recording of Exile on Main St. It was the peak before the fall for both the ’60s and the lives of Puss and Tommy. By 1971, heroin and cocaine became the mainstays of a scene once limited to LSD and marijuana, and Tommy fell into heavy abuse. Puss, as happened with more than a few of the “European hippie jet-set scene,” committed suicide. Tommy then couch-surfed around Europe with his children, hanging out with stars and scammers, even cooking up plans to free Timothy Leary, then a fugitive in Switzerland. Fast-forward a couple decades. Son Jake became a well-known actor, starring in NBC’s Medium, while Charley became a musician and Web designer. After abusing his body for decades, Tommy died in 2006. To sum up the turbulent decade, the author visited Puss’ grave, writing that, along with her physical remains lies “the spirit of an age long since gone, a moment in time when those engaged in a grand social experiment did everything they could to break free from all constraints.”

Though it often reads like an extended society gossip column, the narrative is studded with enough trivia and name-dropping to engage ex-hippies and other fans of ’60s culture.

Pub Date: May 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-306-81622-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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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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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