Napoli's narrative skills are outstanding. She depicts Ray and Joan in vivid detail and with deep sympathy, something that's especially difficult given how neither Kroc was an especially appealing person ... One of the strengths of Napoli's narrative is the depiction of people in the Kroc orbit, from early business partners to the men (and one woman) who helped take McDonald's public ... The book would have been better, however, had it focused more deeply on Joan. Napoli brings her to life, but primarily on a surface level and mostly in the last part of the book. Her eccentricities and generosity alike are recounted, but not fully analyzed.
Napoli’s prose at times verges on purple, and her book’s organization can kindly be described as impressionistic, but there’s no denying the storytelling appeal ... [Napoli has a] tendency to skate over the surface of her subjects’s psyches with just enough perceptiveness to inspire the wish that she would go deeper ... Napoli’s portrait of Joan in her final two decades, impulsively writing multimillion-dollar checks and dispatching her private jet 'like a pickup truck' to run personal errands for friends, is charming and engaging. It’s also meandering and occasionally baffling.
This is a playful, even waggish work of biography, carrying its research lightly, yet never missing a beat or frivolous or judgmental. It feels like a careful grave rubbing, catching the nicks, fadings, and fine lines – gold and bronze chalk against a dark background ... Napoli draws Ray Kroc honestly without making you loathe him outright – a minor miracle.
What Napoli captures so well is a woman who, having gotten so much for the simple act of saying 'I do,' decided that others were as equally entitled to her good fortune as she was — and acted accordingly ... Napoli has given us a book that is a snapshot of 20th-century America, particularly in the postwar years. That her two main characters were both rags-to-riches stories makes it all the more appealing. The author’s portrait of the eccentric Joan Kroc is particularly engaging.