A funny, frank and hopeful memoir of middle age.

THE MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO

MY YEAR OF RAGING HORMONES

A writer and syndicated radio host’s no-holds-barred account of how she survived the rigors of midlife crisis and menopause.

When Atlantic contributing editor Loh (Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!, 2008, etc.) reached her late 40s, the stability and rationality that had characterized her world suddenly vanished. Feeling vaguely trapped by a staid marriage, she made a “prison break” with an equally bored married man into what she thought was the freedom of an affair. The result was a messy divorce and an even messier period of regrouping. But Loh’s malaise persisted and began to manifest as physical symptoms—including bloating, weight gain and rapidly shifting moods—she could neither explain nor completely control. With candor and attitude to spare, the author chronicles how she navigated the unexpected transformations that occur in all midlife women. Determined to find a way to endure “the change” with her sanity intact, she explored everything from best-selling books about finding happiness to hip new exercise trends like Kettlebelling. But sometimes even her best efforts were not enough. As she tried to cope with her unsettling physical and emotional changes, she also had to deal with other volatile situations. One was her two daughters’ transitions into adolescence and immersion into “the peculiar horrors of Facebook.” The other was her eccentric octogenarian father’s decision to marry a younger woman he thought would take care of him but who would eventually be diagnosed with a severe case of dementia. Loh observes that late baby boomer/early Gen-X women like Madonna, Oprah and Demi Moore have helped remove the stigma associated with “the change” and shown that menopause can be a time of female empowerment rather than hysterical helplessness. Humbled and changed from the inside out, Loh still celebrates menopause as a brand of wisdom revealing “this chore wheel called modern life” for the sham it is.

A funny, frank and hopeful memoir of middle age.

Pub Date: May 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08868-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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