Both from the June 15 issue of Library Journal.
McPhee, Sarah. Bernini’s Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini. ART
Baroque master Bernini’s relationship to Costanza Piccolomini, the young wife of an assistant sculptor, is one of the pulpiest footnotes to the artist’s life: reportedly, he was overcome with passion for her; carved a striking, intimate portrait of her; and, upon learning that she’d taken up with his brother, hired a man to slash her face. (Bernini, meanwhile, chased his younger sibling through St. Peter’s with an iron rod, breaking two of his ribs.) In this biography of the woman at its center, McPhee (art & architectural history, Emory Univ.; Bernini and the Bell Towers: Architecture and Politics at the Vatican) peels back the layers of the scandal that most art historians either ignore or sensationalize. Costanza, born into an impoverished branch of a noble family that produced two 15th-century popes, was literate, canny, and ambitious. With her husband, she built a prosperous sculpture business and amassed an enviable collection of art, including a canvas by Poussin (The Plague of Ashdod) now at the Louvre. VERDICT A scrupulously researched and sober biography of a remarkable woman who was both muse and patron. Recommended.—Molly McArdle, Library Journal
Schofield, Michael. January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her. PSYCH
Schofield’s (English, California State Univ., Northridge) daughter January—or, variously, Janni, Blue-Eyed Tree Frog, or 47—astonished her parents with her early grasp of negative numbers at age two and memorization of the periodic table of elements before she was four. But what Schofield first called eccentricities stemming from January’s prodigious imagination doctors later diagnosed as child-onset schizophrenia. Covering June 2006 to July 2011, Schofield keeps the pace brisk as he recounts January’s early quirks, the violent turn she took after her little brother’s birth, and her journey through a gauntlet of doctors, hospitals, and treatments. With some creative thinking (trading a single apartment for two smaller ones, one specially equipped for January’s needs), the help of a psychiatric emergency team (getting January into UCLA’s inpatient psychiatric facilities), and a drug cocktail that seems to work (clozapine, lithium, and Thorazine), January’s parents managed to wrest her back into day-to-day life. VERDICT The anxiety, frustration, and loss Schofield and his wife experience are palpable, so much so that the author’s tone is, at times, grating. Still, their heart-wrenching story—featured on 20/20 and Oprah—is bound to move parents and caregivers of children with similar psychiatric disorders.—Molly McArdle, Library Journal