A light, lively narrative about a singular, narcissistic woman.

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A DANGEROUS WOMAN

AMERICAN BEAUTY, NOTED PHILANTHROPIST, NAZI COLLABORATOR—THE LIFE OF FLORENCE GOULD

A biography of a seductress, gold digger, and Nazi collaborator.

As Ronald (Hitler’s Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures, 2015, etc.) repeatedly asserts, Florence Gould (1895-1983) was “an unmitigated snob and egotist” whose only goal in life was “having a good time in high society.” Born in America to French parents, Gould had aspirations to become a world-famous opera singer; when her talent did not measure up to her outsized self-assessment, she became a chorus girl. After divorcing her wealthy first husband, she caught the eye of Frank Gould, the alcoholic son of railroad magnate Jay Gould, whom she wrested away from his second wife. Frank provided her with jewels and a string of hotels and casinos in French resorts. He also had a predisposition to collecting his own coterie of mistresses while she thrived in the company of “pretty boys” and lovers, including the besotted Charlie Chaplin. Gould’s “beauty, charm, and fabulous wealth had become a deadly man magnet,” Ronald writes. She had a reputation “as a lioness, devouring the men she wanted at will.” Drawing on many published sources, newspaper reports of Gould’s scandalous escapades, and Gould’s often fraudulent testimony when she was interrogated as a Nazi collaborator, Ronald conveys the glittering surface of Gould’s life. Without intimate correspondence or diaries, however, she fails to uncover her subject’s feelings, motivations, and thoughts, resulting in a one-dimensional portrait of an astonishingly selfish woman. Chronicling her many affairs and swirling social life, Ronald homes in on Gould’s liaison with Ludwig Vogel, a former German Luftwaffe officer, who became her lover and protector during the Nazi occupation of France, one of “a dizzying, revolving door of German men.” Vogel, though, was the most important, keeping Gould supplied with all manner of “delectable treats” while most Parisians were nearly starving. Although doggedly investigated after the war, not least for her part in a money-laundering scheme, Gould suffered no reprisals, devoting herself to art, music, and pleasure.

A light, lively narrative about a singular, narcissistic woman.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09221-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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