A charming tribute to food, drink and homeland.

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PASSION ON THE VINE

A MEMOIR OF FOOD, WINE, AND FAMILY IN THE HEART OF ITALY

Do not read this book on an empty stomach: The author lovingly describes so many exquisite-sounding Italian meals that those without immediate access to fresh mozzarella and artichokes will feel very sorry for themselves.

Esposito, the owner of Italian Wine Merchants in New York City, opens his debut memoir with an account of his idyllic childhood in the slums of Naples, where women lowered baskets from their balconies to buy the fish straight from the sea and grapes straight from the vine. His lifelong love affair with Italian food began in this gastronomic paradise, but his family was ripped from Naples in 1974, when he was still a child, and condemned to live in Albany, N.Y. Esposito writes heart-wrenchingly of their tearful adjustment to a new culture and cuisine (so-called). The pasta they ate in Italy, he writes, had been laid in the middle of the street, “so that the unique combination of Mediterranean and mountain winds would dry it in just the right way, to produce the perfect texture when it was boiled.” At his family’s first meal with their American cousins, the pasta was “mushy…like glue in my throat.” Still, it was in Albany that Esposito’s uncle shared his nightly glass of California red, launching an autodidact’s career dedicated to improving the reputation of Italian wines and revitalizing the flagging economy of traditional winemakers. Describing his travels through his native land, first as a student and then as a wine merchant, Esposito writes with such earnest enthusiasm that detailed accounts of winemakers purchasing different types of equipment are actually interesting. He reaches his poetic heights, however, in describing the food and vintages he consumed on each adventure. In one Roman restaurant, a southern white wine “smelled of apricots, white flowers, dried honey, nuts…[I] got the sensation that I was being seduced in a Pompeii brothel before the volcano erupted.”

A charming tribute to food, drink and homeland.

Pub Date: April 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2607-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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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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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

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

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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

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