Dangerous Ambition: Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power - Susan Hertog

Rebecca West was a dazzling literary genius; she published her first, groundbreaking work of criticism before the age of twenty. Dorothy Thompson, a fearsome foreign correspondent, became the first female head of a news bureau and the first American journalist the Nazis expelled from Berlin. These two women were born just a few months apart in 1890 and were close friends for decades. In this remarkable dual biography, Susan Hertog charts the women’s intellectual development, their destructive relationships (Thompson’s marriage to Sinclair Lewis, West’s affair with H.G. Wells) and their often Dangerous Ambition (Ballantine, $30). Hertog illuminates their careers in the context of Victorian womanhood and the early feminist movement. She has created an indelible, important portrait of women in love and at work.

Charles Dickens: A Life - Claire Tomalin

Charles Dickens’s favorite of his own novels was David Copperfield; the least popular in his time and since is Barnaby Rudge. Dickens got his start as a writer reporting on Parliament. He was an amateur magician and mesmerist, and when traveling was always eager to visit theaters and morgues. These are a few glimpses of the literary legend available in Claire Tomalin’s richly textured Charles Dickens: A Life (Penguin Press, $36). Or make that lives: Dickens was a novelist, journalist, editor, actor, performer of his own fiction (his readings drew thousands and were more lucrative than book sales), social reformer, and father of ten. Tomalin, an award-winning novelist and biographer—her works include a study of Ellen Ternan, Dickens’s paramour—matches her subject’s range and energy with a vivid, fast-paced narrative in which she charts Dickens’s growing popularity and financial security book by book and child by child. She also illuminates the complex, often contradictory man behind the icon of Victorian industriousness. A champion of the poor and the outcast, Dickens was kind to strangers but often callous to his family, sending away all but one of his sons and publicly rejecting his wife after twenty years of marriage.

Charles Dickens: A Life By Claire Tomalin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143122050
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Books - October 30th, 2012

Tolstoy: A Russian Life - Rosamund Bartlett

Rosamund Bartlett, a British scholar of Russian culture, has written extensively about the grand masters of Russian fiction, including Chekhov, Gogol, and Turgenev. Her new Tolstoy: A Russian Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35) makes extensive use of sources not available until the fall of the Soviet Union.  Born into a landed aristocratic family, Tolstoy filled his younger years with drinking, gambling, and seducing serfs. Later, the Count became a populist, pacifist, vegetarian, and advocate for peasant literacy and women’s rights. Bartlett gives a thorough portrait of the artist and links his life in fascinating ways to his writing, showing how Tolstoy drew on his own ideas and on his family members to create the memorable figures of his novels. A.N. Wilson, who wrote the last significant biography of Tolstoy twenty years ago, says that Bartlett’s work “conveys Tolstoy to me more vividly than any biography I have read, although not any biography I have written!”

Tolstoy: A Russian Life By Rosamund Bartlett Cover Image
ISBN: 9780151014385
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - November 8th, 2011