"Blue Windows," by Barbara Wilson. Picador. $25. 341 pages.
The author's account of her early years in the Christian Science church is the best sort of childhood memoir: It reaches beyond the individual troubled family, the damaged, unreliable or abusive parent, to illuminate a larger culture.
The book's tone is so measured, so unsensational and scrupulously fair-minded that the horrific tragedies it recounts seem somehow doubly shocking and affecting.
What saves "Blue Windows" from being a mere catalog of Gothic horrors is the elegance of much of the writing, the precision with which Wilson narrates incidents from her past, describes its principal characters and captures the fleeting sensory details of childhood memory.
"Beryl Markham," by Catherine Gourley. Conari. $6.95.
The author kicks off the new Barnard Biography Series for young women in grand fashion with this book. It paints a compelling, in-depth portrait of the legendary aviatrix Beryl Markham, and does so in a deft, readable style that educates, entertains and edifies.
The author explores the seminal factors in Markham's early childhood in British East Africa: she was abandoned by her mother, raised by her father, and spent a childhood with the local tribes, the Masai and Kipsigis.