PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHalford’s book is billed as a memoir, but it’s really an ardently told, diligently researched intellectual biography of Chambers ... My Utmost will be enjoyed and admired primarily by those who feel, as Halford does, 'a complicated nostalgia' for the evangelical faith they were raised in — those who can’t and won’t defend all the old doctrines but find that religion still pulls at them ... But those readers may also long for just a little more confession ... With My Utmost she reminds those of us who might have once dismissed Chambers as just another bewhiskered eminence that in this traditionless tradition there lives a man who read Balzac, Emerson, Nietzsche, Wilde, Dickens, Darwin and others with ferocity and humility, confronting dissent rather than hiding from it.
MixedElleBolick's evocation of the untethered state is often beautiful, her metaphors precise and lyrical in the manner of her heroines. More important, she does not flinch from describing just how alone alone can feel ... While she's admirably frank about how fraught it can be to search for meaning without marriage and children providing automatic answers, she doesn't manage to articulate why the search is worth it.
RaveELLEIt's not easy to pull off switching between criticism and confession—and like Echo Spring, The Lonely City is an impressive and beguiling combination of autobiography and biography, a balancing act that Laing effortlessly performs. Her gift as a critic is her ability to imaginatively sympathize with her subjects in a way that allows the art and life of the artist to go on radiating meaning after the book is closed, and yet her love of the work never means lost authority as an interpreter of it.