In this fierce and poignant book, the author, drawing on sources that include her grandmother's richly erotic diaries, unveils intimate details of the Acton dynasty in Florence, the illicit love affair of Arthur and Elsie, and the controversial legal aftermath that continues to this day. A true family saga played out against the backdrop of Florence's celebrated Villa La Pietra. The struggle over the billion dollar estate of one of the 20th century's most notable aesthetes, Harold Acton, pitted New York University, against first Liana Beacci, Acton's illegitimate half-sister, and since her death in 2000 her daughter, Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereale, who lives in Honolulu. It began its progress through the Italian legal system soon after Acton's death in 1994 with more downs than ups for the family. But a recent reworking of Italian inheritance laws, to make them internally coherent and to bring them into accord with European protocols ,promises a dramatic conclusion – and sooner rather than later. It was always a story in which reality was more colourful than fiction. You will find it in My Mother, My Father and His Wife Hortense: The True Story of the Villa La Pietra (Amazon), a vivid book by Dialta, published under her family name, Dialta Lensi Orlandi, who is now Princess Dialta di Montereale. In fifty chapters, against the historical and social backdrop of art, glamour, war, and international intrigue, the lives of the Beaccis and the Actons are woven together through the eyes of a third-generation family member, Dialta Lensi Orlandi, granddaughter of Arthur Acton and daughter of Liana Beacci.The tale encompasses the fate of Acton's estate, an appalling betrayal, and the continuing fight to restore justice and dignity to Acton's legacy and the Beacci family name. Arthur Acton, Dialta's grandfather, was an art dealer, married to Hortense Mitchell, a Chicago heiress, but who came to dislike both art and her husband's home in Florence. Dialta's mother was born to Arthur Acton's lifelong mistress, Ersilia. Her half-brother, Harold Acton, the model for Anthony Blanche in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, and who had been host at La Pietra to Princess Diana and Pablo Picasso, was acquainted with his relations and tried to thwart their inheritance.In 2003 the court of Florence allowed the bodies of Liana and Arthur to be dug up for DNA tests. These established with “the highest degree of probability” that Liana was Arthur Acton's daughter and a surprise ending.
Out of all the many stars and celebrities Hollywood has produced, only a handful have achieved the fame—and, some would say, infamy—of Orson Welles, the creator and star of what is arguably the greatest American film, Citizen Kane. Many books have been written about him, detailing his achievements as an artist as well his foibles as a human being. None of them, however, has gotten so close to the real man as does Chris Welles Feder's beautifully realized portrait of her father. In My Father's Shadow is a classic story of a life lived in the public eye, told with affection and the wide-eyed wonder of a daughter who never stopped believing that someday she would truly know and understand her elusive and larger-than-life father. The result is a moving and insightful look at life in the shadow of a legendary figure and an immensely entertaining story of growing up in the unreal reality of Hollywood, enhanced by Welles Feder's collection of many never-before-seen family photographs.
In presenting to the public the Memoirs of Queen Hortense exactly as she recorded them, in exposing it to scholars—with an intrinsic and absolute respect for the integral historical accuracy of the text—these intimate revelations as set down by her royal hand, Prince Napoleon did a service not only to history but also to the memory of a princess too often harshly criticized eminently French in her heart and mind, to the memory of an unfortunate Queen, to the memory of an exquisite woman. Like the Emperor, one of whose shadows she was and whose touching and affectionate farewell smile she received as he was leaving France for the last time, the Queen of Holland has nothing to lose by having all her acts and even her mistakes fully revealed. This becomes very clear as one peruses these volumes where she took care not to avoid any of the difficulties of her task. She knew what society said about her; she was aware of the reproaches, justified and unjustified, of which she was the object. Frequently, reading between the lines one is conscious of the care her pen took to refute certain implications, sometimes with disdain but never without courage.
A “touching and funny” novel of a dysfunctional family and one man’s struggle to both get away from them and to hold them close (Publishers Weekly). In the summer of 1969, twelve-year-old Seth lives with his unstable mother, Ruth, and his brother and sister in a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey. His father lives with his new wife in a ten-room house—and has no interest in Seth and his siblings. Seth is dying to escape from his mother’s craziness and suffocating love, her marriage to a man she’s known for two weeks, and his father’s cold disregard. Over the coming decades, he will become the keeper of his family’s memories and secrets—at the same time emotionally isolating himself from all those who love him, especially his mother. But Ruth is also Seth’s muse, and as he stumbles through life, dating a lesbian and marrying a shiksa, their bond can never really be broken . . . “Funny, honest and obsessive . . . Adam Schwartz is one part Philip Roth, but with a neurosis all his own.” —Gish Jen, author of World and Town “With exhilarating wit, skill and passion Adam Schwartz covers more than thirty years in Seth’s life as he fights with, negotiates, distances himself from and embraces his vivid, difficult relatives. A Stranger on the Planet brings us a hero who is almost heroically anti-heroic, and who can be counted on to almost always act, endearingly, in his own worst interests. I would happily have followed him anywhere.” —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
An assessment of the life and work of Paul Câezanne offers insight into his views about an artist's role and his self-doubt about his own capabilities, demonstrating how his beliefs revolutionized the ways subsequent artists would see and depict the world.
With 32-pages of full-color inserts, and black-and-white illustrations throughout. Alex Danchev gives us the first comprehensive assessment of the revolutionary work and restless life of Paul Cézanne to be published in decades. One of the most influential painters of his time and beyond, Cézanne was the exemplary artist-creator of the modern age who changed the way we see the world. With brisk intellect, rich documentation, and eighty-eight color and fifty-two black-and-white illustrations, Danchev tells the story of an artist who was originally considered a madman, a barbarian, and a sociopath. Beginning with the unsettled teenager in Aix, Danchev takes us through the trials of a painter who believed that art must be an expression of temperament but was tormented by self-doubt, who was rejected by the Salon for forty years, who sold nothing outside his immediate circle until his thirties, who had a family that he kept secret from his father until his forties, who had his first exhibition at the age of fifty-six—but who fiercely maintained his revolutionary beliefs. Danchev shows us how the beliefs Cézanne held and the life he led became the obsession and inspiration of artists, writers, poets, and philosophers from Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso to Samuel Beckett and Allen Ginsberg. A special feature of the book is a remarkable series of Cézanne’s self-portraits, reproduced in full color. Cézanne is not only the fascinating life of a visionary artist and extraordinary human being but also a searching assessment of his ongoing influence in the artistic imagination of our time. A stunning portrait of a monumentally important artist, this is a biography not to be missed. From the Hardcover edition.
Quiet simply this book is about the trials of life, never giving up, and continuing to seek real life changing answers. Thereby, gaining knowledge from every trial of life through educating yourself, which is sometimes given freely or learned through missteps. In chronological order she shares her life as well as documenting the regiment of care for an aging infirmed parent. It includes lots of knowledgeable and interesting reading for literally everyone. Finally, this book is ultimately a celebration of life and celebration of death when each are within their appropriate time, although more often than not we control and choose that appointed time inappropriately.
Orpha Buchanan and Peg Meriweather had a very different start in life. Orpha surrounded by wealth and riches, Peg dumped on a doorstep as a baby with nothing to her name but a scruffy blanket and tatty clothes. But one thing they had in common from their very first day, was a mother who despised them and wished them gone. Hortense Buchanan wasn't made to be a mother. Bullied herself when she was a child, she continues the tradition with her own children, loving money and finery more than her own flesh and blood. When her daughter Orpha runs away from home, Hortense celebrates, never once worrying for her safety. Circumstances bring Orpha and Peg together, and before long they're as close as family, making their way in the hustle and bustle of a booming Birmingham and the smoke-filled Black Country. But before long, Hortense realises that her daughter stands in the way of the one thing she really cares about, and the bitter legacy of the Buchanans looks set to destroy them all...
Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith. Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.
For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple - especially love. Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom have suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother's dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother, Josephine, has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense at the outset as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror. Where will Hortense's future lie? it may not be in her power to decide. Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of life long ago, this is the story of a girl destined by fate to play a role she didn't choose.
In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him permanently paralyzed, a victim of “locked in syndrome.” Once known for his gregariousness and wit, Bauby now finds himself imprisoned in an inert body, able to communicate only by blinking his left eye. The miracle is that in doing so he was able to compose this stunningly eloquent memoir.In a voice that is by turns wistful and mischievous, angry and sardonic, Bauby gives us a celebration of the liberating power of consciousness: what it is like to spend a day with his children, to imagine lying in bed beside his wife, to conjure up the flavor of delectable meals even as he is fed through at tube. Most of all, this triumphant book lets us witness an indomitable spirit and share in the pure joy of its own survival. From the Trade Paperback edition.
From CNN’s official royal historian, a highly praised young author with a doctorate from Oxford University, comes the extraordinary rags-to-riches story of the woman who conquered Napoleon’s heart—and with it, an empire. Their love was legendary, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Josephine, came to power during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of France. The story of the Corsican soldier’s incredible rise has been well documented. Now, in this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams draws back the curtain on the woman who beguiled him: her humble origins, her exorbitant appetites, and the tragic turn of events that led to her undoing. Born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie on the Caribbean island of Martinique, the woman Napoleon would later call Josephine was the ultimate survivor. She endured a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed during the Reign of Terror—then barely escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death experience only fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her determination to find a man who could finance and sustain her. Though no classic beauty, she quickly developed a reputation as one of the most desirable women on the continent. In 1795, she met Napoleon. The attraction was mutual, immediate, and intense. Theirs was an often-tumultuous union, roiled by their pursuit of other lovers but intensely focused on power and success. Josephine was Napoleon’s perfect consort and the object of national fascination. Together they conquered Europe. Their extravagance was unprecedented, even by the standards of Versailles. But she could not produce an heir. Sexual obsession brought them together, but cold biological truth tore them apart. Gripping in its immediacy, captivating in its detail, Ambition and Desire is a true tale of desire, heartbreak, and revolutionary turmoil, engagingly written by one of England’s most praised young historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this alluring and complex woman will finally elevate Josephine Bonaparte to the historical prominence she deserves. Praise for Ambition and Desire “Not just a scholarly work, but a page-turner . . . Williams is no stranger to creating works on strong and influential women, and, as in those works, here she does an admirable job of demystifying Josephine. . . . This engrossing and accessible account is for all readers who enjoy historical biography.”—Library Journal “[A] riveting account . . . Williams perfectly illustrates all that was bizarre and maddening about French life during the reign of Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte.”—Publishers Weekly “Intelligent and entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews “An in-depth portrait of the substantive woman behind the throne.”—Booklist “Reading [Ambition and Desire] is like watching Silk Stockings, the 1957 Hollywood masterpiece with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The book flows and jumps, taking the reader by the hand through tormented times in French history without ever letting you go or losing itself in the intricacies of French politics.”—The Times “A sparkling account of this most fallible and endearing of women.”—Daily Mail “A whirlwind tour of French history.”—The Telegraph From the Hardcover edition.
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