RaveThe New York TimesIf you’re already a Brandi Carlile fan (I don’t think there’s any musician I’ve listened to more in the last five years), there’s an excellent chance you’ll find Broken Horses charming, funny, illuminating and poignant. If you’re not a fan, Broken Horses might well make you into one, especially now, because the book feels like the antithesis of social distancing — replete with Carlile and her identical twin collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth touring in vans and buses (more recently with their wives and children in tow) and performing songs they’ve written together to celebratory crowds. Carlile’s warmly colloquial tone evokes listening to stories, possibly in a bar, told by a friend who leads a life far more interesting than your own. Each mostly chronological chapter concludes with a plethora of photos, handwritten captions and song lyrics by Carlile and others ... That I finished reading without a clear sense of the personalities of either Hanseroth brother could reflect Carlile’s deference to their privacy or a blurring between their identities and hers.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review... grew out of an article for O Magazine that went viral, so perhaps it’s facile to say that it reads like a book that grew out of an article ... The results of this format are mixed. Some statistics feel cherry-picked or just hard to prove, and at times, as in the chapter on perimenopause, being Gen X, being female and being middle-aged seem to get conflated. By contrast, the economic and labor statistics are both convincing and sobering ... Calhoun’s essential premise is highly persuasive. I know a lot of women with seemingly enviable professional and personal lives who aren’t happy and secretly worry they’re doing everything wrong ... If at some point the book began exacerbating my own sleeplessness as much as explaining it, there are pleasures to be had in the familiar pop cultural references and the darkly amusing anecdotes ... Ultimately, however, so many women appear that they blur together ... I wished Calhoun had included fewer women’s stories but gone into those stories in greater detail.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s a testament to the entertaining voice, emotional acuity and quick pacing of All My Puny Sorrows that it doesn’t become evident until about two-thirds of the way through how slight the plot is ... The flashbacks to Yoli and Elf’s childhood in a rural Mennonite community are vivid and energetic. In both the past and present, Toews perfectly captures the casual manner in which close-knit sisters enjoy and irritate each other. The dialogue is realistic and funny, and somehow, almost magically, Toews gets away with having her characters discuss things like books and art and the meaning of life without seeming pretentious or precious; they’re simply smart, decent and confused ... All My Puny Sorrows is unsettling, because how can a novel about suicide not be? But its intelligence, its honesty and, above all, its compassion provide a kind of existential balm.
RaveThe Washington Post... succeeds ... [Eire] has done a splendid job. The memoir is masterfully written, bursting with wonderful details and images and populated by characters so well described that they seem to be sitting next to you on the couch ... Eire has a leisurely, conversational way of telling his story ... The book has its flaws, but once you\'ve fallen under the spell of the author\'s charming, sympathetic, sorrowful voice, they all seem minor ... without that love, both for his family and for the country he left behind, it seems unlikely that Eire could have written such an extraordinary book.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWeiss presents a panoramic view of the proceedings, which are alternately juicy (accusations of libel and bribery abounded, and, in spite of Prohibition, the whiskey and bourbon were free-flowing) and procedural. Weiss also provides national and international context: World War I had ended less than two years earlier, and both the war and its aftermath had jumbled established norms of gender, race and employment ... Weiss is a clear and genial guide with an ear for telling language ... She also shows a superb sense of detail, and it’s the deliciousness of her details that suggests certain individuals warrant entire novels of their own ... The Woman’s Hour offers several timely reminders: of how history-altering legislation comes about after much nitty-gritty, unglamorous fieldwork; of how tenuous the progress toward true equality under the law really is; of how social and legal changes that in retrospect seem inevitable were hardly considered such at the time (indeed, even after the 19th Amendment passed, its ratification was contested repeatedly). And yet, if nothing can be taken for granted and change rarely comes without a fight, there remains reason for optimism.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] rich and engrossing new novel ... In delineating the casual blend of irritation and unsentimental affection among family members of all ages, Patchett excels ... Patchett’s language is generally plain but occasionally soars satisfyingly; her observations about people and life are insightful; and her underlying tone is one of compassion and amusement ... Because of the circular structure of the plot, the fatal episode is depicted three separate times, in increasingly poetic language that I found hard to take.