An inimitable life captured with spirited, winning immediacy.




Legendary art lecturer and L’OEIL magazine founder Bernier (Matisse, Picasso, Miró—As I Knew Them, 1991) collates jam-packed brief sketches of her long, eventful life.

As a roving fashion editor for Vogue from 1945 onward, the author met all the modern artists of the time, in music, design, photography and painting. She was one of the few journalists invited into the studios of Picasso, Matisse and Louise Bourgeois, and she depicts these prickly personalities with a startlingly freshness and intimacy. Bernier’s fortuitous career path was due partly to her peripatetic upbringing and family ties. Born in 1916 to an English mother and American Jewish lawyer from Philadelphia who was steeped in music, Bernier attended English boarding school and Sarah Lawrence College. She befriended musicians like Aaron Copeland and his disciple Leonard Bernstein early on, while living in Mexico after college and during her first marriage. Bernier got offered three jobs at Vogue at once, mostly by accident and knowing the right people. She admitted to Edna Chase that she knew nothing about fashion, to which the redoubtable editor replied: “My child, I know a fashion editor when I see one.” Tracking stories in Paris meant helping Horst photograph Gertrude Stein and her poodle; getting fabulous discount clothes from Balenciaga’s tailors and others; and being asked to interview Coco Chanel when she staged her postwar comeback in 1954. Each vignette is riveting with particulars. Bernier’s later years were notable for her marriage to English art critic John Russell and successful career as a “professional talker,” roaming the world giving lessons in art history.

An inimitable life captured with spirited, winning immediacy.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-26661-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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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...


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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