Those lucky enough to have lived and attended school in Europe will love this book, and anyone heading to Paris will surely...

The author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (2001) returns with another celebration of France.

Carhart (Across the Endless River, 2009) was 4 when his family moved to Fontainebleau in 1954. His father was a staff officer for the headquarters of NATO command, housed in the Château de Fontainebleau. The author and his four siblings were enrolled in French schools, where they had to learn the language quickly. Carhart alternates chapters explaining the 900-year history of the chateau with delightful tales of France in the 1950s. Having returned to live in Paris as an adult, he has been lucky to meet the architect in charge of preserving Fontainebleau. The architect has shown him the attics and gutted remains, explaining the additions and changes of the various occupants, including Marie and Catherine de Medici and Napoleon III. He convincingly argues for his preference for the history-rich chateau over the more popular Versailles. Just as interesting are the stories of children’s games played at school and Sunday excursions to Paris. In the city, they explored parks and museums while their father went to his fencing matches. The family lived in a large home with an acre of garden, sufficient household help, and, most importantly, wine delivered to the back door every few weeks. Camping was a cheaper vacation for a family of seven, but spending an entire day setting up their large, nonwaterproof tent took most of the fun out of it. Carhart relates how their father thought nothing of driving on two-lane highways and narrow mountain roads in their giant American station wagon, without a sign of a guardrail. As the author tells it, everything was a lovely adventure.

Those lucky enough to have lived and attended school in Europe will love this book, and anyone heading to Paris will surely add Fontainebleau to his or her schedule.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42880-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview