Married; children: three. Education: New School for Social Research, M.A.
Historian and writer.
Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss(nonfiction), Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.
The Roosevelt Cousins: Growing Up Together, 1882-1924(nonfiction), Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
The Little Balloonist(novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Historian Linda Donn published her first book, Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss, in 1988. She followed Freud and Jung with another nonfiction book, titled The Roosevelt Cousins: Growing Up Together, 1882-1924. The latter book details the relationships among the members of the famous political family. Donn covers four decades of feuds, competition, and drama among the Roosevelt cousins, including Alice, Eleanor, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Many reviewers praised the book. "The elegant writing, psychological insight, and useful photographs make for absorbing reading," remarked William D. Pederson in the Library Journal. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, felt similarly, maintaining that the book is "especially rich" for those who wish to take a "closer look at a time that is fast fading into memory." AKirkus Reviews critic agreed, calling the book "a perceptive analysis of the clash between loyalty and ambition in an epic family drama played out in the public eye."
In 2006 Donn published her first novel, The Little Balloonist. The protagonist of the story is Sophie Armant Blanchard, who was a real-life balloonist in nineteenth-century France. In the fictionalized account, Sophie falls in love with her childhood companion, Andre, but she is ultimately betrothed to Jean-Pierre, an older, wealthy balloonist. She begins to fly with her husband, and consequently becomes a skilled pilot herself. As Sophie's fame grows, she catches the eye of ruler Napoleon Bonaparte, who appoints her as the empire's official balloonist. After Jean-Pierre dies of a stroke, Napoleon becomes flirtatious with Sophie, but, still in love with Andre, she denies his advances.
The Little Balloonist elicited positive reviews. Booklistreviewer Brad Hooper called the novel "an interesting take on an interesting period." Likewise, a Kirkus Reviews critic felt that Donn "conveys sheer wonder fluidly," concluding that the book is "charming and smart—singularly high- spirited historical fiction." A Publishers Weekly reviewer agreed with this assessment, stating: "As pretty and slight as its heroine, Donn's novel breezes gently across her remarkable life."
In an interview with Ron Hogan posted upon theBeatrice Web site, Donn discussed her writing process for The Little Balloonist: "The structure of the story unfolded over time, and the metaphors of a balloon as freedom—and of silk as a complex form of strength— have an internal logic quite apart from me." Donn further asserted that "in the end, those things pushed the story forward more than anything I consciously did. So much so that the next time I write a novel, I will look for the possibility of metaphor, for it's the wind at my back."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2001, David Pitt, review of The Roosevelt Cousins: Growing Up Together, 1882-1924, p. 377; December 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of The Little Balloonist, p. 23.
Economist, April 15, 1989, review of Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss, p. 100.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of The Roosevelt Cousins, p. 1335; December 15, 2005, review of The Little Balloonist, p. 1289.
Library Journal, October 15, 2001, William D. Pederson, review of The Roosevelt Cousins, p. 90; January 1, 2006, Cynthia Johnson, review of The Little Balloonist, p. 95.
Publishers Weekly,November 21, 2005, review of The Little Balloonist, p. 28.
Beatrice,http://www.beatrice.com/ (June 16, 2006), Ron Hogan, "How Linda Donn Discovered Her Balloonist."