Feminists and fans of Nin’s work will enjoy this unique insider’s portrait of a complex, pivotal figure in women’s...

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MY SECRET LIFE WITH ANAÏS NIN

Getting to know lust, love, and Anaïs Nin (1903-1977).

In 1962, a month before she turned 18, Rainer (Your Life as Story, 1997, etc.) met Cuban-born Nin, the noted diarist, famous lover of Henry Miller, and popular erotica author, at Nin’s Greenwich Village apartment while on an errand for her godmother, Lenore Tawney, the noted fabric artist. Rainer was attending a Catholic high school and still a virgin. She met Nin’s supportive husband, Hugo Guiler, Caresse Crosby, founder of Black Sun Press, and Nin’s 30-something friend Jean-Jacques. In a Delta of Venus manner, the impressionable author describes how she went with them to a night club, danced, drank, smoked pot, and, later, experienced with Jean-Jacques what “today…would likely be considered a form of date rape.” So begins her spicy and saucy hybrid of memoir and novel. This gives her the freedom to fictionalize events and encounters whenever she feels it appropriate. Over the next 15 years, up to Nin’s death in 1977, she became a close friend and mentor to Rainer, encouraging her writing and advising her on lifestyle matters—mostly sexual. Rainer became a devotee of Nin’s philosophy of life: “A woman has an equal right to pleasure as a man.” She was dazzled by Nin’s persona, beauty, and sexual history. When Rainer became a college professor—she eventually went on to co-found the UCLA Women’s Studies Program—she was able to have Nin give talks to her students. She enjoyed her new life of sexual freedom, the parties, new friends, and trips, many to visit Nin’s other husband in California, the “gorgeous” Rupert Pole, getting herself awkwardly involved in Nin’s secret, two-husband juggling act. Over time, she realized that Nin was a “deeply flawed person—a narcissist, a bigamist, a liar, and a deviant,” but she was also “so loveable.”

Feminists and fans of Nin’s work will enjoy this unique insider’s portrait of a complex, pivotal figure in women’s liberation.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62872-778-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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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

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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