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HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT WIFE

BRITAIN'S MOST INELIGIBLE BACHELOR AND HIS ENLIGHTENED QUEST TO TRAIN THE IDEAL MATE

A darkly enlightening tale—thoroughly researched, gracefully written—about Enlightenment thought, male arrogance and the...

The award-winning author of The Knife Man (2005) returns with a true-life, truly bizarre tale set in Georgian England.

Thomas Day (1748–1789) had numerous virtues: He supported the American Revolution, opposed slavery, believed in living meanly to support those in need, abhorred social conventions, and wrote best-selling poetry and children’s books. But as Moore shows us in this often shocking tale, Day was, in contemporary parlance, a creep—a man who took into his keeping two young girls whom he raised in a sort of sick competition to see which one would become his bride. Such behavior today, of course, would land him in prison for a lengthy sojourn, and Moore struggles valiantly to balance her disdain for Day’s soaring arrogance and male entitlement (and cruelty) with her wonder and scholarly disinterest. Day wasn’t a physically prepossessing fellow, but his considerable fortune and earnest manner caused many to overlook his eccentricities. Greatly influenced by Rousseau, Day cast about for a young woman who would meet his exacting spousal standards. Seeing none, he went to a foundling hospital, where he lied to obtain the services of two pre-pubescent girls, whom he named Sabrina and Lucretia. He tutored them, toughened them up with harsh physical training and raised them to be ideal partners for him (his intellectual equals, but also his servants). Day eventually sent Lucretia packing and invested all in Sabrina. It didn’t work out. Both eventually married other partners (and were more or less happy), and Sabrina ended up closely allied with the family of writer Fanny Burney. Her odd story found its way into writings by Burney, Trollope, Henry James and others.

A darkly enlightening tale—thoroughly researched, gracefully written—about Enlightenment thought, male arrogance and the magic of successful matrimony.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0465065745

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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NIGHT

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

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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