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A Story Lately Told

by Anjelica Huston |

REVIEWED BY MARY POLS

MEMOIR

A caution: The star of The Addams Family and Prizzi’s Honor (and, famously, Jack Nicholson’s ex-girlfriend) writes only about her first two decades in this memoir. So no dish on Jack or her recent TV outing Smash. A promise: You won’t mind, because this slim, plainspoken book is so evocative. Huston details her entitled yet uncertain youth, much of which was spent on her family’s Irish estate, where she romped with dogs and dreamed up fictions to share with her father, movie director John Huston. His lime cologne and gruff voice almost waft off the page, as does the sadness left by his many absences and lack of fidelity to her neglected, beautiful mother, Ricki. But when he returned, often with mistresses (including the novelist Edna O’Brien) and the likes of John Steinbeck in tow, “like a sleeping beauty awakened, the house would come alive.” Huston cuts short her story not long after her first serious role in her dad’s film A Walk with Love and Death. But a second installment is planned; a good thing, since this sleeping beauty of a memoirist has clearly awakened.

Double Down

by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

NONFICTION

This compulsively readable follow-up to Game Change isn’t just gossip. (Does Obama really like Clinton? Did Michelle Bachmann say that?) A chronicle of the freak show that was the 2012 presidential election, the book illustrates how profoundly personality shapes history. And it shows too that, love or hate Obama’s policies, it’s hard not to admire him as a man. At one point Joe Biden, aware that he and Obama are utterly different, notes a similarity: “He doesn’t pretend to be what he’s not, and I don’t pretend to be what I’m not.” Double Down amply demonstrates how our 44th President earned every one of those brand-new gray hairs.

Stella Bain

by Anita Shreve |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

Shreve’s spare, elegant novel unravels the mysterious past of a wounded army nurse in World War I. Regaining consciousness in a hospital tent in France, Stella Bain has amnesia but senses that something terrible has happened to her. Her pursuit of the truth—in England, in America and on the battlefield—reveals the bitter sacrifices she has made to survive. While the story sometimes feels a little rushed, Shreve’s many fans will appreciate her keen understanding of women’s struggles to live life on their own terms.

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