Decked out like a history, with index and bibliography: a striking, romantic, personal narrative.

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TOMORROW TO BE BRAVE

A MEMOIR OF THE ONLY WOMAN EVER TO SERVE IN THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION

An extravagant tale of war and romance, with a decided emphasis on the latter.

Now in her 90s, Travers writes in an “I shall never forget” mode. With remarkable recall, she describes her cold English upbringing and portrays the tenor of society life in Cannes during the 1930s. In 1940 she changed her tennis whites for nurses’ khakis and joined the Free French—who, apparently, were free in lots of ways. She was soon chauffeuring officers in Eritrea along the road to Kub-Kub (a map is provided), but she managed to find the time for various randy encounters and assignations. The liaisons are presented as guileless romance, mind you, not actual sex. Under the nom de guerre of “La Miss,” Travers served as the driver for General Pierre Koenig—a dashing officer who soon became the love of her life. She was with him at Bir Hakeim when that North African outpost was besieged by Rommel; with her General in command, La Miss guided the historic breakout. Her description of the drive, negotiating between land mines and flying bullets, is the central and best part of her story, which really has less to do with military history than romance. She lived with lucky Pierre in domestic bliss during much of the war—but the joy faded with the arrival of the General’s wife. After the war, La Miss became an authentic member of the French Foreign Legion, married a fellow soldier, and raised a family. Now she’d like to tell her grandchildren “what a wicked grandmother they had.” It’s all a bit melodramatic, full of old-fashioned schoolgirl romance, but this is not “Barbara Cartland Goes to War”—for Cartland surely never received, as La Miss did, the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire.

Decked out like a history, with index and bibliography: a striking, romantic, personal narrative.

Pub Date: June 14, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0001-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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