Monday, November 01, 2010

Holiday Gift Books 2010
Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt
by Robert Gottlieb


This is the first in a Yale series on Jewish Lives. It's the first new biography in English of Sarah Bernhardt in awhile apparently, and the author is the former editor in chief of several publishing houses as well as the New Yorker. He currently writes for the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where a detailed appreciation of this and other books on Bernhardt can be found.

Gottlieb reputedly casts a skeptical eye on some of the more outrageous stories Bernhardt told about herself, though this book records a lot of highs and lows--and excesses. My own interest was learning about her as an actress, but that's not this book apparently. Personally I wasn't drawn to her as a character, and I couldn't get beyond the writing, which is too florid for me. It is however a well-published book: handsome to the eye and to the hand, with sharp illustrations integrated throughout the text. So if there are people on your holiday shopping list who are interested in the Divine Sarah, this is an appropriate gift book.

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