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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Hortense Calisher’s revelatory novel of celebrity, small-town values, and a young woman’s coming of age Famous playwright Craig Towle has decided to return to his New Jersey hometown, a suburb of New York City. He arrives with his world-renowned reputation and a new wife who is half his age. It is the 1950s, and the new couple raises plenty of eyebrows—in particular, those of the narrator, an adolescent girl who is full of observations, but not judgments. At the center of this layered novel is the narrator’s unconventional family and their odd fixation on Towle, which goes beyond his mere celebrity. The secrets of their past and the potential involvement of Towle in the family’s lineage intertwine in a potentially devastating turn.
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Rocky Roads and Bare Feet is about the times of a young boy growing up in rural Alabama in the decade of the 1950s. It is learning the hard way and how children thought and passed the time. The stories tell of a new generation who began life and grew into a time when there were no astronauts, no interstate highways and television was the newest rave. The stories and tall tales of Rocky Roads and Bare Feet are about the author and his brothers and sister as they grew up in the 1950s. These stories are the ones I told to my children. They were told as we sat on the porch in a swing or a rocking chair. In the evenings when there was nothing else to do, Jennifer, would say Daddy, tell me about when you were a little boy. The stories in the book were written to be passed on to my grandchildren. Many of the stories are true; the seven tall tales have fictional characters but are true more-or-less. The stories are interesting if you want to know how it was back then. Jeff Harper
Stowaway…or wife! Commodore John Drymore's mission is clear. Sail to France, rescue Comte Giradet from prison and bring him and his daughter back to England safely. But Lisette Giradet defies the Commodore at every turn and soon gets under his skin more deeply than the bullet in his arm. Desperate to rescue her brother from the guillotine, Lisette smuggles herself back on board ship. With her life in jeopardy, she's given no choice—she must assume the role of the commodore's wife!
Death on the Installment Plan is a companion volume to Louis-Ferinand Céline's earlier novel Journey to the End of Night. Published in rapid succession in the middle 1930s, these two books shocked European literatue and world consciousness. Nominally fiction but more rightly called "creative confessions," they told of the author's childhood in excoriating Paris slums, of serves in the mud wastes of World War I and African jungles. Mixing unmitigated despair with Gargantuan comedy, they also created a new style, in which invective and obscenity were laced with phrases of unforgettable poetry. Céline's influence revolutionized the contemporary approach to fiction. Under a cloud for a period, his work is now acknowledged as the forerunner of today's "black humor."
Betty Ford is remembered as one of the most outspoken and influential first ladies of all time. Although she entered into the White House during turbulent times, Mrs. Ford captivated a nation and provided them with someone they could trust. Serving immediately following the Watergate scandal meant that she would be subjected to greater scrutiny than most of her predecessors. Fortunately for the country, Mrs. Ford did not shy away from the challenge. Her positive attitude, candour, and honesty were refreshing remedies for an ailing nation and set the standard for the modern first lady. She championed many issues including alcohol and drug abuse, women's rights, breast cancer awareness and other social concerns. This new biography sheds light on this charismatic first lady.
Perched on the shores of the Tacoma Narrows, the community of Salmon Beach overlooks the spectacular Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Built as a series of fishing shacks on the beach, Salmon Beach took on a more permanent flavor after Henry O. Foss towed his two-story boathouse from the city to the tidelands south of Point Defiance. After electricity was introduced in 1934, more comfortable cottages were built in this fishing community. From summer beach camping to an isolated refuge in the middle of a city, a haven for rumrunners during Prohibition to the counterculture enclave of the 1960s, the community of Salmon Beach has weathered fires, evictions, landslides, and government caprice to become the unique neighborhood of Tacoma it is today.
Hortense Calisher’s evocative memoir bristles with intelligence and youthful inquiry Kissing Cousins recalls the author as a teenager: peppy, earnest, and a bit self-important. Hortense Calisher documents her family’s surprising history as Southern Jews adrift in New York. Finding her new city and school boorish, the young Calisher takes solace in the enduring friendship she develops with Katie Pyle, a gregarious nurse turned “kissing cousin” fifteen years Calisher’s senior. Katie, an unmarried woman, possesses her own secret, depicted here with a novelist’s touch for the dramatic. Kissing Cousins tackles matters of aging, life, and death with the sensitivity and eloquence readers have come to expect from Hortense Calisher.

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