This book has had a profound effect on me. I've felt for some time a particular affinity for Marie-Antoinette, independent of any sensational hatred oThis book has had a profound effect on me. I've felt for some time a particular affinity for Marie-Antoinette, independent of any sensational hatred or passing obsession. She simply makes sense to me, and her courage in the face of unspeakable disrespect inspires me. If she forgave a country a hundred times for the cruelest offenses and even her family and friends for turning on her, I can forgive the little Brutuses in my own life. I think this quote sums up Fraser's general take-away point: "A frequent charge made against 'Antoinette' was that she bathed in the blood of the French people; the truth of it was, of course, exactly the other way around." I began this book as a fan of her style and grace and with a simple curiosity about her real life, and I've ended the book knowing that her character far outshone all of her diamonds. And that's saying something....more
This is an incredibly real, honest-feeling look into the things that might be going on in the heads of regular kids at a church camp. I could relate tThis is an incredibly real, honest-feeling look into the things that might be going on in the heads of regular kids at a church camp. I could relate to some of the mixed feelings of appreciation and sentimentality with fakeness as well. But mostly, this is just written beautifully. Especially toward the beginning of the book, the surroundings and the feeling of being at summer camp is laid out in a very lush, visual manner, with so much more nuance than say, Wet Hot American Summer. Masterful writing, heartbreaking and heartfelt reality. Loved it....more
This was a very accessible biography that really opened my eyes to the Queen's "job" -- what it is she does every day, from the mundane to the bizarreThis was a very accessible biography that really opened my eyes to the Queen's "job" -- what it is she does every day, from the mundane to the bizarre. It really made me appreciate the point of the monarchy in England and Elizabeth's role in setting an example for the spirit of the country as well as in international relations. At times the book lapses into the "on this day she went here, and had these meetings, etc. etc." kind of rhythm but I think that's inescapable since the Queen doesn't grant interviews and the author had to make do with written records and 2nd-hand accounts of everything. If I could have asked for anything it would have been for more detailed descriptions and pictures of dresses, jewelry, and the estates!...more
Thomas Jefferson and I have a disturbing amount of characteristics in common, personality-wise. And I wouldn't have known about some of them if I hadnThomas Jefferson and I have a disturbing amount of characteristics in common, personality-wise. And I wouldn't have known about some of them if I hadn't read this book. This book is really an investigation of what TJ was like at different important stages in his life, and how his major relationships shaped him. I found myself fascinated most of the time, although I did get quite bored during the more political discussions. All in all, a fine read and a suitable primer for someone who's interested in getting to know TJ but doesn't want to read a full-on political tome....more
Listened to this audiobook while on a trip for work, and it provided a nice backdrop to the otherwise-depressing travel snafus I experienced. I don'tListened to this audiobook while on a trip for work, and it provided a nice backdrop to the otherwise-depressing travel snafus I experienced. I don't love the writing style, and as a whole it's (like Bossypants) pretty manic and disorganized, but its sincerity covers over these blunders. It's delightful to hear about her upbringing, and her assumption that she probably enjoys acting and playing crazy characters because she had SUCH a normal, nurturing childhood. And as someone a little younger than her, it's nice to hear affirmations of some of the wisdom about aging and physical appearance / self-worth in general that I've only truly come to believe wholeheartedly since having a kid. I enjoyed this quote a lot:
"If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks."
That's a nice way to put it. Also, the chapter on divorce is hilarious and poignant and gave me that "I'm glad I'm not the only one" feeling of relief that comes when things you hadn't even verbalized are mentioned as a common struggle by someone else.
If you just want to read this book because you've got a Parks and Rec hangover and you're desperate to have Leslie Knope talk at you for a little while longer, this is a GREAT way to scratch that itch. And I'll be she'd be proud to hear that her identity has so seamlessly integrated with Knope's. :)...more
Though there were a few shining nuggets of too-real truth in there (including her analogy about Miss Piggy and Kermit being the weird dysfunctional roThough there were a few shining nuggets of too-real truth in there (including her analogy about Miss Piggy and Kermit being the weird dysfunctional role model couple we grew up with), most of it was one big braggy dose of "the lady doth protest too much, methinks." Most of the chapters launched directly into lengthy cut-downs of one guy or another, going into details about why they were childish or pathetic or whatever, only to end in her sort of going "oh well" and sleeping with them anyway and getting very suddenly graphic about it. I have no idea how that pattern constitutes "lessons learned," as the subtitle of the book implied. I thought this was going to be funny and insightful and sense-making vignettes, but it was a jumpy melange of "oh what cool quirky thing about myself have I forgotten to find a way to mention thus far?" It also makes me queasy that more than the first half of the book is about her *childhood.* Her childhood, people. Sad trombone.
Two stars instead of one because she does have a defined writing style, and can illustrate a point with enough grammatical punch to make it sound good while still feeling conversational and comfortable.
Probably if you read these quotes I picked from the few-and-far-between nuggets of truth in the book, you don't need to read the actual book:
"If anybody studying psychology wants a concrete example of what a narcissist looks like, I advise them to consider any man who cheats on his wife. These guys are the textbook me-firsters, the ones who think the rules don't apply to them, the ones who tell themselves as long as she doesn't know, there's no harm done. No woman needs to sleep with these guys."
"Sleeping with a musician probably won't be enough for you to feel good about yourself. Even if he writes you a song for your birthday. Don't you know that a musician who writes a song for you is like a baker you're dating making you a cake? Aim higher."
"If you're going to be a musician's girlfriend, you have to know that your man will always love his bandmates in a way you can't even touch, because they are the guys who help him create music. You can only help him create a living human being, with your dumb uterus."
"There are plenty of nerds who fear women and aren’t sensitive, despite their marketing; they just dislike women in a new, exciting way."...more
While Emily Post herself is fascinating, I think this book mostly dives into the most mundane of facts concerning her - where she went on such and sucWhile Emily Post herself is fascinating, I think this book mostly dives into the most mundane of facts concerning her - where she went on such and such a day, what she was doing when such and such an event took place. I was looking for a more personal look at her, and for someone to sum up and make sense of her life on a higher level (rather than just recounting minutiae). Instead, there are long-winded passages full of conjecture, like "The low rumble of the tires against the gravel, lulling them as they drove, probably quashed any desire to talk. Maybe the little group lingered too long, unable to tear themselves away from such perfect weather." I think her life was interesting enough without all the flowery speculation added to dress it up.
However, I like Emily Post so much that I soldiered on through the whole book, and am at least a little more knowledgable about her life I guess. Whenever I read her own writing, it's so vibrant that I can't help but want to highlight quotes the entire time. But out of this entire tome, the following are the only quotes I wanted to save (there were so few from her anyway):
"I feel each home should represent the taste of the individual living in it, and not be filled with things some one else said were the things to have."
"Houses without personality are a series of rooms with furniture in them."
"If a rule seems to be like sand in the gear box instead of the lubricating oil it is intended to be, get rid of it and use home made oil instead."
"One knows one's weak points so well, that it's bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others."