A well-researched but critically toothless and ultimately depressing record of epic vulgarity and emotional incontinence.

READ REVIEW

FURIOUS LOVE

ELIZABETH TAYLOR, RICHARD BURTON, AND THE MARRIAGE OF THE CENTURY

Vanity Fair and Esquire contributor Kashner and Schoenberger (Creative Writing; William and Mary; Hollywood Kryptonite, the Bulldog, the Lady, and the Death of Superman, 2006, etc.) examine the union of Hollywood actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, larger-than-life figures who inspired the fevered fascination of their public and presaged the current age of media obsession with the private lives of celebrities.

Burton and Taylor were no strangers to notoriety before their fated meeting on the notoriously troubled production of their film Cleopatra (1963). When the two married stars brazenly flouted their new romance, a scandal of international proportions was born, prompting a media obsession with the couple that endured for decades. The Burtons gave good value. Their many health crises, career reversals, jet-set milieu, fabled screaming matches, sexual provocations and indulgences in luxury provided ample grist for the gossip mill, creating a virtual cottage industry out of Burton-watching. The authors’ view of the star-crossed thespians is overly sympathetic, detecting poetic depths of tragedy in behaviors that will likely strike the average reader as grotesquely immature, selfish and gratingly repetitive. The Burtons squabbled, made conspicuous love, occasionally made indifferent or outright poor films and spent lavishly on jewels, houses, yachts and oceans of alcohol. The glamour of their lifestyle begins to pall as it becomes evident that the couple was essentially a pair of privileged toddlers, indulging whims and throwing tantrums before a raptly scandalized world audience. The book is really Burton’s story, and the authors provide solid material on his humble upbringing, large, close family and his early incandescent stage career. Also compelling are the many excerpts from Burton’s personal correspondence, revealing an intelligent, articulate man hobbled by maudlin self-loathing and weakness of character. Taylor remains the remote, regal movie star, coddled and indulged since early childhood. Her monstrous sense of entitlement is easy to understand but difficult to stomach. The Burtons made significant contributions to cinema, but this book’s focus on their romance seems misplaced. In the words of Burton’s beloved Shakespeare, their story is merely full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

A well-researched but critically toothless and ultimately depressing record of epic vulgarity and emotional incontinence.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-156284-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

more