RaveBooklistTo the late Anglo-Irish writer, the short story was not a time-filler between work on novels. Bowen appreciated the form’s separate place in literature, and her contribution to it was outstanding—not so much in terms of innovation as in maintaining a tradition of excellence. Her complete stories now have been brought together, and they constitute a vital tribute to her sensibility as a writer. She reaches subtly, seemingly effortlessly, into the minds of her characters, to the core of motives and feelings. One aches at her delicacy, sensing the robustness of the vision guiding her refined, sensitive hand. The influence of Henry James and Virginia Woolf is apparent, but Bowen is no imitator. An essential acquisition.
A. N. Wilson
PositiveBooklist... magnificently understanding ... Wilson judges the prince as a \'great\' public figure, especially as a major contributor to the evolution of the monarchy into the constitutionally based institution that remains securely in place to this day.
PositiveBooklist... engaging and informative ... To be immersed in this group biography is to visit a particularly exciting and consequential period in European history in all its high drama and richness of character. As Strathern works through the stories of the Borgias, readers learn that the major factor in their dominating personalities and lawless politics was not so much depravity as ambition. A magnet for all who are intrigued by this infamous clan and everyone looking for a new perspective in European history, this is an outstanding account.
PositiveBooklistThere are numerous books on the seventh president, but this one is distinguished by its particularly fluid presentation. As the subtitle indicates, it has special appeal for those readers who may be uninterested in a complete cradle-to-grave treatment but are looking for a particular focus on the Jackson presidency ... riveting.
RaveBooklistThe subject of historian and women’s studies expert Saxton’s solid and edifying biography is not the iconic wife of our first president but, rather, his relatively little-known yet complexly influential mother, Mary Ball Washington ... Saxton explores her relationship with and profound hold on George, who shared aspects of her temperament, in frank detail, This much-needed biography not only resuscitates and corrects an interesting figure’s reputation and illuminates her role in shaping America’s founding president, it also provides a colorfully detailed depiction of colonial American social life. For readers fascinated by early American and women’s history.
PositiveBooklistThis forceful historical account is a much-needed published assessment, given that NSC members are generally not known to the public, which this author believes is a good thing ... This book is essential reading for all interested in politics, government, and contemporary U.S. history.
RaveBooklist... [a] masterpiece of biography ... a wonderfully stirring biography; to read it is to feel as if you are witnessing the birth of a country firsthand.
PositiveBooklist[Bess\'] penchant for erecting domiciles both homey and beautiful fit well into her booming times, the well-drawn setting for Hubbard’s probing, buoyant portrait of this exceedingly wealthy, headstrong (Hubbard’s title derives from a disparaging remark made by Bess’ fourth husband), controversial, and influential woman and her world.
PositiveBooklistPasternak’s mission here, accomplished with style and discernment, is to give appropriate balance to how history has proffered Mrs. Simpson’s character and motives (many have viewed her as a gold digger) and recorded her role in the abdication crisis. What Pasternak poignantly reveals is that both the king and Mrs. Simpson demonstrated incredible naïveté about the consequences of their marriage. She seemed to think that she could continue to be with Edward with little fuss, while he assumed that he could \'ditch\' the throne and still be given deference in British society.
RaveBooklistIn its first pages, Morrison’s latest novel seems to be a retread of the author’s old themes, settings, and narrative voice; however, it quickly achieves its own brilliant identity ... poetic ... [a] short but deeply involving story. A fitting companion to her highly regarded Beloved.
RaveBooklistMorrison’s taut, lacerating novel observes, through the struggles of Frank to move heaven and earth to reach and save his little sister, how a damaged man can gather the fortitude to clear his mind of war’s horror and face his own part in that horror, leave the long-term anger he feels toward his hometown aside, and take responsibility for his own life as well as hers. With the economical presentation of a short story, the rhythms and cadence of a poem, and the total embrace and resonance of a novel, Morrison, one of our national literary treasures, continues to marshal her considerable talents to draw a deeply moving narrative and draw in a wide range of appreciative readers.
PositiveBooklist\"... [Morris\' writing style is] both effervescent and substantial ... for this consummate observer and chronicler, brevity belies depth. At one point, Morris refers to both the \'gentle beauty of England’s countryside\' and the \'grandness of its history.\' One can describe Morris’ prose the same way.\
PositiveBooklistResonantly poignant ... Conroy, we quickly come to see, was a complicated, egocentric, generous-when-he-felt-like-it personality; and although Mewshaw stands forthrightly as an estimable personality, not taking refuge in the shadow of his more-famous friend, the book’s lasting value lies in Mewshaw’s letting Conroy’s vibrancy, whether striking the reader as a positive or negative factor, shine through.
RaveBooklistBeautifully perceptive and dynamic ... Readers will be intrigued by Borman’s tales of the interactions between the king and Charles Brandon, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Eustace Chapuys, and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk ... in this highly engrossing biography, the notoriously larger-than-life English monarch, seen from an original and revealing perspective, lives anew in full color and in the epic proportions he so well deserves. For all Tudor enthusiasts.
RaveBooklistAddis is immensely skilled at smoothly and revealingly integrating portraits of noteworthy figures of all kinds into the much larger picture, while identifying the varying, evolving, world-influencing attributes that contributed to Rome’s ability to maintain its global consequence and role in the imagination of generations. The author’s methodical yet swiftly flowing presentation yields an excellent and valuable one-volume treatment of the many-faceted tale of the Eternal City, a widely appealing achievement that deserves a place in all public libraries.
RaveBooklistPoor Mary Stuart. At a young age, she seemed to be on top of the world. She was queen regnant of Scotland, queen consort of France, and in Catholic eyes, the rightful queen regnant of England ... But, as the title of Williams’ refreshing, engaging biography indicates, Mary Stuart’s life trajectory trended downward ... Tudor-Stuart enthusiasts will, of course, recognize the major characters and events that Williams writes about, but they will appreciate the greatly vibrant tone in this account by the best-selling author of Young Elizabeth and CNN royal historian.
PositiveBooklist\"In the fifth volume of his comprehensive, masterfully conceived, and evenly written history of England—which reaches from the foundation of the English kingdom to, at this point in his survey, the innovations underscoring the dominion of the seas that characterized the Victorian Era—Ackroyd sees that \'change\' was in the air and, further, that the groundswell urge for change was focused on political reform ... With a large cast of historic figures, a chronicling of the coalescence of the middle class and changing labor concerns, the rise of secularism, and the expanse of the British empire, Ackroyd’s deep and broad canvas is rich in informative details and will appeal to all readers interested in British history while especially pleasing those fascinated by this era.
PositiveBooklist\"Irishman Tóibín\'s... new book analyzes the effect exerted on the masterful literary works of Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce by their fathers, all three of whom were forceful Dublin figures in their own right ... The bigger picture here, though, is a vivid and knowledgeable depiction of nineteenth-century cultural life in the Irish capital, when Dublin lay depressed in a political slump because the Irish parliament had been eliminated from Dublin by the Acts of Union of 1800, a malaise that lasted until the Republic of Ireland was founded later in the twentieth century. Tóibín portrays three giants of Irish literature and their city in a new and clarifying light.\
PositiveBooklist\"This smart, very nearly smart-alecky social comedy rewards casual fiction readers with a load of fun ... Readers will be reminded of Peter Mayles’ French-oriented fiction, which means that deWitt’s delightful novel is made of high-grade chocolate.\
RaveBooklistThe situations behind Trevor’s...beautifully composed stories revolve around themes of personal cruelty, romantic and marital heartbreak, lover betrayal, and even violent death, and he has long established himself as a writer of great charity for the ordinary person and sympathy for the hard knocks of unheralded lives ... Trevor’s characterizations step to the fore as the major aspect of his writerly genius ... Trevor will long reign as a literary master.
RaveBooklistIn this endearing memoir, Maupin recalls the colorful path he followed as he carved out a place within his logical family, including military service in Vietnam and a San Francisco journalist career, during which his Tales of the City characters and situations were created. It is easy to understand Maupin’s reputation for geniality, given his openheartedness as a person and his honesty as a writer; and that will make this delightful chronicle attractive to a wide range of readers, whether they’re familiar with his fiction or not.
RaveBooklistTóibín’s accomplishment here is to render myth plausible while at the same time preserving its high drama ... The selfish side of human nature is a hoary, always fresh theme for fiction, made tangible and graphic in Tóibín’s lush prose.
Sally Bendell Smith
PositiveBooklist...[a] comprehensive and admirably fair biography ... Until his accession to the throne, Smith’s portrait will stand as the definitive study.
RaveBooklistWith a vibrant cast of characters both iconic, including the vastly influential Niccolò Machiavelli, and rarely highlighted, Dunant’s captivating Renaissance Italian saga will thrill her fans and bring more into the fold.