Unsure what new book to read next? Sit back: We read the book reviews so you don't have to. Below are the collected reviews of two new memoirs being discussed in leading journals and magazines. Today we look at "The Cost of Hope: A Memoir" by Amanda Bennett, and "A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child" by Mary Soames
"The Cost of Hope" by Amanda Bennett
In modern society, the process of dying is at once an extremely personal voyage that also has very public implications. In "The Cost of Hope," Amanda Bennett dissects the death of her husband - who passed away seven years after being diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer - with a profound understanding of the personal and public ripple effects his absence left behind. Summoning the likes of Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates, Bennett's grief compelled her to plumb the depths of love she and her husband shared as a couple and as a family. But she alternates tools, at times using a stethoscope to explore the pulse of her relationship, then a magnifying glass to read the fine lines of the medical bills. Her memoir is balanced with a journalist's eye for details concerning the history of her husband's disease, as well as the exorbitant costs his healthcare demanded.
To Cathi Hanauer of The New York Times, "Hope" is "equal parts marriage confessional and skilled investigative report," and is most "graceful" when she "knits details of Foley’s illness...with those of the couple’s family life and her jobs." Most reviewers conclude that the heart of the book is stronger than its brain. Suzanne Koven of The Boston Globe agrees that "Bennett has written a deeply felt memoir" that happens to be "wrapped in a rather half-hearted discourse on the economics of health care. Ignore the wrapper — and savor its rich contents." Finally, Laura Landro of The Wall Street Journal believes her memoir "illuminates the conundrum Americans face over the high cost of care—the fact that we will do almost anything to keep our loved ones alive because we can't bear to let them go." In the throes of family illness, Cost always takes the back seat to Care.
"A Daughter's Tale" by Mary Soames
When you're the close relative of a global figure, it must be hard to escape their shadow. You're always a "brother," "daughter," or "father" of someone, so often defined by their accomplishments more than your own. Still, these are minor details. Mary Soames may be Winston Churchill's daughter, but she is also her own woman who served in the ranks and was admitted to some of the most important political conferences in the 20th century. Her new memoir "A Daughter's Tale" is an homage to the brilliant mind of her father, the revered Prime Minister of Britain and a craftsman of the free world. But her book is also a testament to her proud continuance of the Churchill name and the unique view with which she witnessed the most cataclysmic events in recent history.
Philip Ziegler of The Spectator calls "A Daughter's Tale" a "perceptive, funny, always totally honest" book that "provides an unequalled view of the corridors of power." Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post thinks Soames let the ending get away with her in the final pages, but still maintained its signature charm, of which something the Churchill's are never in short supply: "Unfortunately toward the end of the book she relies more than necessary on direct quotation from her rather flibberty-jibberty diaries, but youth does have its charms, and these extracts can be forgiven on that ground. On the whole 'A Daughter’s Tale' is charming in the best sense of the word, a fit capstone to what has been a remarkable life."