An imaginative voyage to the undiscovered country in company with a master mariner. (16 pp. color illustrations, not seen)

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WILL IN THE WORLD

HOW SHAKESPEARE BECAME SHAKESPEARE

A re-sifting and re-imagining of the Shakespeare evidence in an attempt to discover how the Stratford lad became the celebrated poet and playwright.

Greenblatt (Humanities/Harvard; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, 1991) begins and ends with the acknowledgement that there will probably never be definitive answers to our most fundamental questions about Shakespeare, for the world’s most luminous writer left no personal writing at all—no letters, diaries, manuscripts. So scholars are left to infer the writer’s external life from assorted legal documents and his internal one from his creations. Even a renowned scholar like Greenblatt, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Elizabethan England, of Shakespeare’s material world, of his literary works and who has a capacious imagination equal to the task of writing the life of someone who died 400 year ago—even such a scholar must populate his paragraphs with those vague characters named Seems and Probably. That said (and Greenblatt, to his credit, says it more than once), this is a remarkably informative and enlightening look at Will Shakespeare. Greenblatt speculates that the young man, charmed by the touring player companies that visited the region, left home (and wife and child) to pursue his alluring dream. Greenblatt examines in the Bard’s work the many allusions to the countryside, to leather craft (after all, he was a glover’s son), and even to Roman Catholicism, the religion his queen had outlawed but that his father could not surrender. Greenblatt describes Shakespeare as a sort of hybrid chameleon and sponge: He could find a way to fit with any group and could absorb from it the language and practices that later gave his plays such verisimilitude. Greenblatt also offers new ways to view the Bard’s strange epitaph, to understand the mysterious motives of Hamlet, Iago, and Lear. He ignores Oxfordian conspiracy theories and speculates that Shakespeare retired to be with his beloved daughter Susanna.

An imaginative voyage to the undiscovered country in company with a master mariner. (16 pp. color illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2004

ISBN: 0-393-05057-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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