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The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. I didnt become an advice columnist on purpose, writes Dickinson (author of the syndicated column Ask Amy) in her chapter titled Failing Up. In the summertime of 2002, after spending months living off of her credit cards between freelance writing jobs, Dickinson sent in an audition column to the Chicago Tribune and became the papers replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mothers family whose members make up the Mighty Queens of Freeville, N.Y., the small town where Dickinson was raised, and where she raised her own daughter between stints in London; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Dickinson writes with an honesty that is at once folksy and intelligent, and brings to life all of the struggles of raising a child (Dickinson was a single mother) and the challenges and rewards of having a supportive extended family. Im surrounded by people who are not impressed with me, Dickinson humorously laments. They dont care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers. Dickinsons irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

When Ann Landers retired as the reigning doyenne of advice-column divas, the Chicago Tribune conducted a nationwide search for her successor, ultimately selecting a relatively unknown NPR contributor and Time magazine columnist. Young and savvy, Dickinson belied the image of a bespectacled matron dispensing timeworn homilies and adages. Offering pithy, no-nonsense counsel, Dickinson quickly charmed legions of fans with her unabashed candor, tension-diffusing wit, and astute reasoning. How this fortysomething single mother came by such wisdom and practicality is lovingly explored in Dickinson’s joyous memoir, an unabashed homage to the notable women who raised her, unassuming small town that nurtured her, and soul-mate daughter who sustained her through the emotional minefields of divorce, single parenthood, and career uncertainty. Though the Dickinson women might have been unlucky in romantic love, their marital misfortune only served to strengthen their innate resolve and unwavering commitment to family. Buoyant and bright, Dickinson offers a refreshingly open and sincere tribute to life’s most important relationships. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401310125
  • ASIN: B003XU7VRY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,438,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Quinn on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This memoir was wonderful - once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Dickinson's candid, no-nonsense prose is at once honest, touching and punctuated with hilarity, and her stories of female resilience are achingly real.

The story follows Dickinson from her divorce (when her daughter Emily is a toddler) to Emily's freshman year of college and catalogues the wide and varied lessons they learned together along the way. It's not a memoir about her rise to fame but rather about the extraordinarily ordinary women in her family who gave her skills to become a successful advice columnist and at the same time raise a child.

I highly recommend this book - read it, then give a copy to your mom!
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Format: Hardcover
I believe that behind every ordinary face there's an extraordinary life story. But my belief wavered while reading The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the People Who Raised Them, a memoir by Amy Dickinson (of the syndicated advice column, "Ask Amy").

The life that Amy presents seems quite ordinary (motherhood, divorce, an extended family), but the narrative voice does little to make the familiar circumstances feel universal or engaging. Chapters are organized by topic (e.g. divorce; motherhood; buying a house; pets; moving away from family; career) rather than by time, and most begin by bumping the reader back to when Amy was married, with a baby. Over time, the structure feels like a loop that prevents forward movement.

A truly distinctive aspect of Amy's life -- that her extended family is almost exclusively women -- resides mostly in the memoir's title and is not developed within. Nor are many words devoted to the truly extraordinary aspect -- Amy being named successor to Ann Landers. Readers who bear through the ordinary in this memoir will likely be disappointed by the exclusion of the other.
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Format: Hardcover
These are the loose memoirs of Amy Dickinson, the woman chosen to replace advice columnist extraordinaire Ann Landers. Her childhood, failed marriage, single motherhood and wayward pets are all fair game for this humorous look-back at her life before and after Ask Amy.

Billed as a memoir, Dickinson's book is perhaps better described as a loose collection of cute anecdotes about her family, her divorce, her pets, or anything else that comes to mind. Pieced together a bit haphazardly, Dickinson nonetheless has a sharp, witty voice that shines through no matter the seriousness of the subject matter.

The ex-husband gets repeatedly skewered throughout the book (apparently time, in fact, does not heal all wounds), but that's the price one pays when an ex-spouse has a national platform on which to skew as she wishes.

While the anectdotes were very enjoyable, there is a lack of focus on the original focus of the book, namely the female family members who inspire the title. The snippets of aunts, sisters and especially her mother leave you feeling it just wasn't enough. What the reader does get, however, is a snapshot of life that is easy to relate to and produces a chuckle or two.

If you love humor applied to the human condition, we're willing to bet you'd enjoy this one, as long as you don't have expectations of a thorough and introspective autobiography. Uplifting and never trite, Amy Dickinson touches on struggles common to all of us, meets those troubles head-on and shows us why we should never, ever give up.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've bought copies to give to friends and family as gifts. Her work is a cross between Erma Bombeck and Ann Landers. She is as nice in person (I was lucky enough to be befriended by her when we moved to Dryden when I was in 6th and part of my 7th grades and have re-connected with her when her column started being carried by my local newspaper).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was interesting to read a book about a single mother who had so much moral support from her community. When my father died when I was a small child, my mother did not have many people to turn to for that kind of help. I was the youngest of nine and fortunately my older brothers and sisters formed a close circle. So I was fascinated to see how "the mighty queens" really helped one another. At times, however, I felt like the togetherness would have been a bit too much for me! Were they shutting other people out?
Amy Dickinson takes strands of her life and treats each of them separately both in theme and chronology. The reader has to really stand back and weave all of the strands together to see what was actually happening in its full context at any point in her life. That is certainly one way to approach memoir writing but not the only way.
As for her marriage, I would say they both contributed to its failure. Their decision to have London as a base for their early home life seemed to have cut her off from any kind of even minimal career fulfillment. It is no wonder that she was overwhelmed with loneliness. But she also seemed rather passive in the situation. I don't know how old she was when she married her husband, but she seemed like someone who needed more time to achieve independence before she married.
I like her a lot as a result of reading the book and think she is lucky to be so mobile while still having a very full career.
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