William James wrote that brother Henry was really ``a member of James family, and has no other country.'' The meaning of that remark becomes abundantly clear in this weighty group biography, which probes how the master novelist, the pioneering psychologist- philosopher, and their siblings were shaped by the formidable legacy of their ancestors. While contributing little beyond the scholarly detective work of Leon Edel and Jean Strouse in their respective biographies of Henry and sister Alice, Lewis (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Edith Wharton, 1976) skillfully if leisurely gives all members of this unusual clan their due. William James of Albany, grandfather of the literary giants, was a Scotch-Irish immigrant whose shrewdness as merchant and real-estate investor (he bought the village of Syracuse just before it boomed) produced one of the largest American fortunes of the early 19th century. Yet son Henry James, Sr., was a restless religious thinker who left his own children with a legacy of intellectualism, angst, and apprehension over what he termed the ``money passion.'' In addition, Henry and William were affected by Alice, a brilliant woman who suffered devastating depressions, and by Wilky and Bob, whose Civil War service left their older brothers with a lifelong regret over missing the great engagement of their generation. These relationships—marked by affection, rivalry, and differences over how to engage life and art—are outlined by Lewis with restraint and subtle insights (e.g., how William and Henry became concerned with the supernatural and ``varieties of religious experience'' in the early 1900's). An astute family portrait, rendered in Jamesian style—by turns indirect, ironic, psychologically penetrating, and moving. (Thirty-two pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-374-17861-5

Page Count: 660

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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