A courageous and compelling example of an author writing her “way out of the darkness.”

ASSUME NOTHING

A MEMOIR OF INTIMATE VIOLENCE

A writer and award-winning filmmaker’s account of how she fell into—and later escaped—an abusive relationship with the charismatic former attorney general of New York state.

When Selvaratnam met rising Democratic political star Eric Schneiderman in 2016, the attraction was immediate, and the texts and emails they exchanged in the weeks that followed became the prelude to a fairy-tale romance. At first, the author thought she had found a man whose transformational feminist values not only aligned with hers, but who seemed committed to defending the nation against what he knew would be Donald Trump’s inevitable “attacks on civil liberties and vulnerable communities.” However, the closer she became to Schneiderman, whose circle of acquaintances included Harvey Weinstein, the more he revealed his misogyny. An alcoholic who also combined Ambien and lorazepam, Schneiderman tried to control Selvaratnam and make himself the center of her life. His abuse also included nonconsensual, sexually sadistic behaviors such as spitting, slapping, choking, and calling her his “brown girl” slave. Terrified that “he and his people [would] try to crush me” if she spoke out, the author quietly confided in friends and her therapist. A domestic violence expert finally helped Selvaratnam, who struggled against crippling anxiety and memories of her father’s violence toward her mother, make a safe plan to leave. In the process, the author learned that the United States was “the tenth most dangerous place in the world for women” and discovered that many of Schneiderman’s associates knew about—and dismissed—his brutality. Selvaratnam then made the decision to go public with her story in the New Yorker, finding strength in the global chorus of voices that emerged as part of the #MeToo movement. Part survivor’s tale and part exposé of intimate violence, the book offers a candid, often frightening exploration of the diabolically schizophrenic ways that the patriarchy conspires to disempower women.

A courageous and compelling example of an author writing her “way out of the darkness.”

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-21424-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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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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