An engrossing work about a related group of medieval queens.

READ REVIEW

FAMILY SECRETS

DISCOVERING MEDIEVAL QUEENS

From the Underwood and Powers Family History series , Vol. 2

A professor, genealogist, and author explores his royal female ancestors.

Researching the family tree of his maternal grandfather, William Henry Powers, Chylinski (Saints, Sinners, Scoundrels, and Some Ordinary People, 2015, etc.) takes the novel approach of tracing the matrilineal line, reasoning that humans are products of both their male and female ancestors. Of course, the author has traced his ancestry back far enough that the women he focuses on are all prominent—the eponymous medieval queens—and thus, researchable (unlike Great Aunt Millie Smith). Chylinski provides biographical sketches of 26 women associated with the Powers family line, many of them recognizable even to the nonhistorian—for example, St. Margaret of Scotland, Brunhilda of Austrasia, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. These biographies are followed by a lengthy list of references, a family chart for Powers, and a number of appendices providing additional information of interest to both genealogists and general readers. The 28 appendices cover varied topics, such as surname history, feudalism, saints and sainthood, the Crusades, and an explication of the Middle Ages. Perhaps most relevant to this work, in Appendix 3 (“The Founding Mothers of the Seven European Haplogroups”), Chylinski explains how the entire world population is descended from seven original women. Finally, he provides a surname index for his research. The appendices are intriguing but more suitable to the general reader than an academic researcher. As with the biographies, they provide a brief overview of various topics. The text is enriched immeasurably by the addition of photographs and images—primarily showing portraits, sculptures, and other artworks of the subjects or time period. There are also some reproductions of original texts. All of this material is helpfully listed in the table of contents. The biographies are prefaced by amusing quotes about women from such diverse sources as author Dave Barry (“You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she is pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment”) and Friedrich Nietzsche (“In revenge and in love, woman is more barbaric than man is”). Chylinski’s work is a vibrant introduction to world history and genealogy for both general readers and family-tree enthusiasts.

An engrossing work about a related group of medieval queens.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5177-1700-1

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more