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Hello, Gorgeous

by William J. Mann |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

BIOGRAPHY

In 1960 gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen made a good call. “Barbra Streisand … doesn’t know how to walk, dress or take a bow, but she projects well enough to bring the house down.” She’s been doing it ever since. Mann, who’s written bios of Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, has found another great subject here, and he offers up many new tidbits about Streisand’s early life: details of her first affair, with a bisexual actor; her rejecting mother’s reaction to seeing her onstage for the first time (she wasn’t convinced “Barbra had what it took”); and some ruminations about those 3-inch nails (both an ageless come-on and a way of prohibiting intimacy). Rarely has any woman willed herself to be beautiful the way Streisand did; her youthful cri de coeur, still heart-tugging, accounts in some part for her legions of devotees. “Is it crazy for me to want to play the love scenes?” she asked a fellow actor. “Is love only for blue-eyed blondes?”

The Secret Keeper

by Kate Morton |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

As her mother, Dorothy, is dying, Laurel Nicolson realizes she must confront a painful episode from the past: She saw her mother murder an intruder. At the time, Laurel corroborated her mother’s story that the man was trying to nab baby Gerald. But if he was a stranger, why did he greet Dorothy by name? As always, Morton (The House at Riverton) weaves an intriguing mystery, shifting between past and present and among fully realized characters harboring deep secrets.

Blasphemy

by Sherman Alexie |

REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

STORIES

By turns wrenching and hysterical, Alexie’s tales feature Native Americans wrestling with who they are and once were. From a newspaper intern writing his first obit to a forest ranger hoping to reclaim his youth, the characters face their truths and pay the consequences. Many escape the rez, then find themselves tugged by its potent pull. You’ll finish this first-rate collection wanting more.

American Ghost

by Janis Owens |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

A young anthropologist arrives in a Florida Panhandle town, ostensibly to research the local culture. But he has a hidden agenda: to investigate a lynching that took place in the 1930s. When he falls for a spirited local girl whose family has secrets to protect-as do most in this isolated, distrustful little community-things turn ugly. Part-thriller, part-romance, and based on an actual event in the author’s hometown, this wrenching novel is a fine example of southern storytelling.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com