ANTONIA WHITE

VOL. I, DIARIES 1926-1957

Antonia White (1899-1980), author of four autobiographical novels (Frost in May, 1933, etc.) and unlikely heroine of the feminist movement, described the period when these diaries begin as ``chaos, misery, breakdown, analysis, divorce''—although the entries conclude with one of the happiest periods of her life. Chitty (That Singular Person Called Lear, 1988, etc.), her daughter, on whose defects White often dwelt, is the unflinching editor of what seems almost an act of contrition for her mother. Certified insane at age 22, White found refuge from madness in analysis, love affairs, and religion, returning to her Catholic faith during a lesbian affair and finding comfort in it for the rest of her life. The diaries served as a confidante to which White could recite inventories of her moods, obsessions, and failures; anatomies of characters and relationships; and confessions of her sloth, jealousy, and inability to love or to inspire love in men, women, and even her children. As revealed here, Lydall, the less problematic child, entitled her memoir of her mother Nothing to Forgive; Susan, the older and illegitimate child, also suffered a nervous collapse at age 22, attempted suicide, and, after briefly finding refuge with her mother, rejected her, excluding her from her marriage and her own children, refusing to communicate for five torturous years. White's pain and isolation were intensified by the betrayal of her analyst, who married her ex-husband, and complicated by several people who plagued her—one a fan who sent money and several letters a day before turning on her, another an actress who successfully sued her for libel because of an accidental similarity to a fictional character. The diary does end on an upbeat note: ``Think about Work, my good woman, not fancy whims.'' Fascinating not for what it reveals about White's world (which she shared with Virginia Woolf and Graham Greene, who appears briefly), but for the guileless revelations of a troubled if functioning author inventing her life. (Eight pages of b&w photos- -not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-670-83970-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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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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