A Book That is Written by or is About a Famous Person

2018

Mary Jo

I make no apologies for being a Hillary Clinton fan, despite not agreeing with all her choices, votes, or decisions. When What Happened became available at my library (I check out e-books through the King County Public Library), I quickly shuffled my reading list to put this at the top. Like most candidates for President, this memoir touches on both the election, the process, and personal stories and background. While those elected don’t publish their memoirs until after they leave office, those who didn’t win usually post theirs within the following year. Hillary joins those ranks.

If you despise Hillary Clinton, there is nothing in this book that will change your mind. And it wasn’t written to change your mind. This is a personal memoir, it is full of angst, and it both apologizes and remains unapologetic. If you’re not willing to see her as a flawed individual (like we all are) who still remains one of the most respected and admired women in the world, then skip this read.

As a woman of the same era as Hillary, I was at times moved to tears as she talked about the limited path that was available in the 50s and 60s. I know the limitations that I had to face in my early school years, a steering of interests to those that were designated appropriate for girls, and I remain thankful that young women of today and so many more choices that I did. The book reminded, however, of the need to remain vigilant to ensure that young women continue to have all these choices and more.

There are facts and figures, statistics and quotes, and lots of analysis about the election. But if you only read it for that take, you’re missing a story of a young woman coming of age in the 60s who despite the odds nearly becomes president of the United States.

A recommended read.


I downloaded this biography of Prince Charles to read as we visited London and Scotland for the first time. While I don’t consider myself a royal follower, I do confess do more than a passing interest in the royal family, especially with the younger generation, Prince William and Kate, Prince Harry and Meaghan.

This biographer seemed to do a good job of creating a picture of a complicated man in an even more complicated situation. There were no apologies made for his often quirky behavior, but there was also plenty of explanation about how he developed his beliefs and why he supports the causes that he does. It also refreshed my memory about certain times in history, or perhaps just rounded out my memory with a U.K. viewpoint.

 

Who better to collaborate on a plotline that involves the President going missing than a former President? In this case, President Bill Clinton joins prolific writer James Patterson.

I’ve long been a Patterson reader but lately have thought his plotlines and character development are pretty thin. I also wonder how much of his collaborations he is writing vs. relying on the author author. This was a nice surprise and I found myself caring about the characters and the eventual plot outline. Yeah, sure, there’s some self-serving political comments, so if they don’t fit your sensibilities, just read over them and go for the plot.

 

Betsy:

Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife isn’t the first book I’ve read which tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. According to author Gioia Diliberto, she is the one woman he never stopped loving.

Hadley is also the subject of a biographical novel, The Paris Wife, which I’ve read previously. Paula McLain wrote The Paris Wife using Hadley’s voice. Seven years older than he, Hadley’s story as told in The Paris Wife evokes the impossible emotional commitments people can and cannot make when their own dysfunctional backgrounds collide with their hopes and dreams.

This true biography (as opposed to the fictional portrayal in The Paris Wife) will further illuminate the milieu in which Hadley and Ernest moved: the Paris-based Lost Generation inhabited by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Gerald and Sara Murphy (whose story is poignantly told in Everybody Was So Young), John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, and famous others between the World Wars.

Definitely recommended.