Thursday, July 16, 2015

Just Added (9): Biographies

I have been browsing the biography section of Goodreads quite heavily lately, and I have stumbled upon quiet a few biographies about amazing women that I would like to read. I made a Biography Shelf if you would like to see all of the biographies on my TBR, but here are a few that I have just added.

Just Added (8)
Just Added (7): Adult Fiction

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera 

Summary from Goodreads:

Hailed by readers and critics across the country, this engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.

Here is the tumultuous life of an extraordinary twentieth-century woman -- with illustrations as rich and haunting as her legend.

Why I added it: I recently saw an exhibit of Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's art at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and really, really enjoyed Kahlo's art. I learned a lot about her life on the exhibit and after leaving, I knew I needed to learn more about her ASAP! This is the biography that the movie Frida is based on, and I hope to watch the movie, and read the book soon!

Vera (Mrs. Vladmir Nabokov) by Stacey Schiff

Summary from Goodreads:

Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for biography and hailed by critics as both “monumental” (The Boston Globe) and “utterly romantic” (New Yorkmagazine), Stacy Schiff’s Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) brings to shimmering life one of the greatest literary love stories of our time. Vladimir Nabokov—the émigré author of Lolita; Pale Fire; and Speak, Memory—wrote his books first for himself, second for his wife, Véra, and third for no one at all.

“Without my wife,” he once noted, “I wouldn’t have written a single novel.” Set in prewar Europe and postwar America, spanning much of the century, the story of the Nabokovs’ fifty-two-year marriage reads as vividly as a novel. Véra, both beautiful and brilliant, is its outsized heroine—a woman who loves as deeply and intelligently as did the great romantic heroines of Austen and Tolstoy. Stacy Schiff's Véra is a triumph of the biographical form.

Why I added it: I read Schiff's biography of Cleopatra a while back and really enjoyed it. This novel looks so interesting as I know NOTHING about Vera Nabokov! I love reading books (fiction and non-fiction) about authors so I think this one will be really enjoyable!

Becoming Queen, Kate Williams
Summary from Goodreads

'I will be good,' promised the thirteen-year-old Victoria, when she understood that she would be Queen of the most powerful country in the world. That, of course, is a matter of opinion. And there are other layers to the story.

With a combination of novelistic flair and historical accuracy, Kate Williams begins by relating the heartbreaking story of Princess Charlotte, the Queen who never was, and her impact on the young Victoria. Our perception of Victoria the Queen is coloured by portraits of her older, widowed self - her dour expression embodying the repressive morality propagated in her time. But Becoming Queen reveals an energetic and vibrant woman, determined to battle for power. It also documents the Byzantine machinations behind Victoria's quest to occupy the throne, and shows how her struggles did not end when finally the crown was placed on her head.

In the late eighteenth century, monarchies were in crisis across Europe. Discontented with their mad King, George III, and his spendthrift offspring, the English pinned their hopes on the only legitimate grandchild: Princess Charlotte, daughter of George, Prince of Wales. But Charlotte died at the age of twenty-two, a few hours after giving birth to a stillborn son. A grieving nation immediately began venerating her as someone who would have made an ideal Queen while Charlotte's rackety uncles embarked on a race to produce the next heir.

No one thought that little Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent, would ascend the throne. She, in turn, became increasingly determined to take control of her own destiny, and clashed constantly not only with her hugely ambitious mother but with her protégé and household comptroller, the Irish adventurer, John Conroy. After she became Queen, ministers, even her beloved Prince Albert, still attempted to steal power away from her.

Revealing how Charlotte's death shaped Victoria's reign and laying bare the passions that swirled around the throne, Becoming Queen is an absorbingly dramatic tale of secrets, sexual repression and endless conflict. 

Why I added it: I love novels set in Royal England, and while I have read quite a few about the reign of Henry the VIII or Elizabeth I, I haven't read about many other royals. This one looks really interesting and entertaining, plus I love to read about royal women. 

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