Next book


Sympathetic but true to a life lived for love.

Literary biographer Hastings (Evelyn Waugh, 1995, etc.) turns to a novelist whose life paralleled the cycles of romantic passion and despair she portrayed in her own books.

The author admits she hedged on the opportunity to write about Rosamond Lehmann, with whom she shared friendship and “hours of gossip” until the latter’s death in 1990, implying that the results of an honest effort (which she has certainly produced) would have been too painful for both. Delving at length into her subject’s family association with the British literati—a grandfather had hobnobbed with Dickens—and early childhood, Hastings finds a girl born to comfort in 1901 but constantly aware that the Upper Class were Different. “Rosie . . . longs for affection,” her father wrote prophetically when she was eight, “and expands under its glow.” An older Rosamond didn’t deny herself when it came to matters of the heart. Trapped in a loveless first marriage, she cheated; her husband knew her lover well, and they became a ménage. When her first novel, Dusty Answer, was published in 1927 to critical acclaim, she began to hear a refrain that would resound for over four decades in response to her novels: “Oh, Miss Lehmann, it’s my story.” Crystallizing female rites of passage in England between the two world wars, her work tapped a seam of empathy far beyond its shores. Her continuing series of serious affairs and flings (one with Ian Fleming) fanned the flames; lesbian readers, for instance, often insisted (wrongly) that she was posing as a heterosexual. Hastings expertly gleans the significant details of emotional attrition along the way and evokes a dark decline. Spurned by longtime lover Cecil Day-Lewis in favor of a younger woman, Rosamond was finally broken by the tragic death of her 24-year-old daughter Sally in 1958.

Sympathetic but true to a life lived for love.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-099-73011-1

Page Count: 476

Publisher: Vintage UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

Next book


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

Next book



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview