A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine

Non-Fiction - Drama
426 Pages
Reviewed on 04/25/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Danuta Pfeiffer was born in England. She immigrated with her family to the United States just after WWII. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado. Her first book, Watersafe Your Baby in One Week, became the definitive book on teaching water survival to infants.

Her career as a journalist led her to a series of radio and television shows including co-hosting SunUp San Diego, and is best known for her tenure as co-host of The 700 Club with Pat Robertson. But turning back to her roots, she resumed her broadcast career as a progressive radio talk show host and newspaper columnist.

Today, Danuta and her husband, Robin, can be found tending to their 70-acre vineyard, making fine wine, and sharing it with friends, family, and guests at Pfeiffer Winery in Junction City, Oregon.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristine Hall for Readers' Favorite

Danuta Pfeiffer's Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine is the amazing story of Danuta's life - filled with deception, devastation, and determination - that takes readers on a courageous journey. Told in three parts, Danuta's story begins at her beginning, as a God-fearing child, living a spartan life under a father she revered, despite his abusive hands. Her father's stories of obstacles he'd overcome in the war, in the most brutal of circumstances, carried Danuta through her own travails time and again, even as her father continued to reject her. For readers who remember Danuta (then Soderman) and her mysterious departure from being the co-host of The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, details are revealed of not only her departure, but of how CBN and Robertson operated behind-the-scenes. This provided fascinating insight into the sometimes sordid world of televangelism, and it ultimately led to Danuta's "losing God" for a period of time. As Danuta navigates her life - out of work, married to an addict, and questioning the very existence of God - she always draws strength from her father's challenges and perseveres. When she finally allows friendships into her life and allows herself to focus on her own needs, she finds true love with a winemaker, Robin Pfeiffer. Robin takes Danuta to Poland, where Danuta connects with her father's family, and discovers the truth and lies of her father's past. Chiseled is a masterfully written story of a woman spending a lifetime searching to find peace, love, and acceptance within herself.

What a beautifully written personal story Danuta Pfeiffer has shared. At times, readers will have to remind themselves that Chiseled is a memoir and not fiction. It is unbelievable that any one person endured all of the heartache and challenges that Danuta faced, and even more amazing that she survived it and now lives a healthy, happy life. Many of her sentences are stunning, and the imagery truly takes the story to another level. For example, in talking about her father's decline into depression, Danuta wrote, "His change took place the way a shoelace comes undone, gradually unravelling what was once secure." Or, when she speaks of her time with The 700 Club, she summarizes it by saying, "I had become a spiritual drug dealer imbued with the halo of power and celebrity, associated with the brokers of money and politics." Her characterization was excellent so that readers not only witnessed actions, but understood and felt Danuta's emotions towards the characters who had the most impact on her life. Particularly powerful was the story of Danuta's mother, Patricia, who was truly the hero of Danuta's life. In Patricia's strength and commitment to her family, Danuta found a role model in a time when women were restricted by societal limitations. Throughout Danuta's life, her faith and relationship with God went through many iterations, and it was interesting to see her thought process at all stages and what ultimately led her back to a life of faith.

I highly recommend Chiseled, as Danuta Pfeiffer eloquently shows that truth can be more dramatic and fascinating than fiction. Readers should be prepared to be angry - and possibly shed a few tears - but in the end, feel inspired.

Gisela Dixon

Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine by Danuta Pfeiffer is an autobiographical account written in the first person by Danuta Pfeiffer. The book more or less follows a chronological sequence of events, beginning with Danuta’s childhood, her relationship with her parents and siblings, and subsequent move with her family to the frigid wilderness of Alaska. We then learn about her progression toward television and talk shows, including the The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, her mix of liberal feminism with right-wing evangelism, as well as her sudden disappearance from this world. We also learn about the trials and challenges of being an unwed teenage mother and the later equally tough challenges of marital tensions and drugs. Finally, we learn of her quest for peace as she finds it with Robin in being a winemaker and running a vineyard in Oregon. Chiseled contains many photographs as well that accompany the reading.

Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine by Danuta Pfeiffer is a compelling memoir that at times made me feel that Danuta Pfeiffer has led many lives in this one lifetime. Danuta has certainly shown courage in baring her soul and writing about deeply personal issues and challenges in her life and I applaud her for that. The writing style is fast-paced and engaging, and her voice comes across as genuine and authentic. All in all, Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine by Danuta Pfeiffer is a gripping memoir and one that I enjoyed reading tremendously.

Maria Beltran

Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity and Divine Wine is Danuta Pfeiffer’s autobiography. Born to a Polish father and a British mother, one of the little girl’s first memories is that of marrying her father in a mock ceremony. She obviously adored her skier and sculptor father. As the story unfolds, she reveals a life of abuse as he grapples with his past as a Nazi concentration camp victim. Danuta seems to invite misery at schools run by nuns, with her first serious date, poverty, a dysfunctional family, and ending up on a dangerous trip to Alaska, accompanied only by her mother, brother, and her baby who will grow up thinking they are siblings. Her misfortune continues until she finishes college, when life takes a turn for the better and she becomes a televangelist in a popular show. This does not last long enough, however, and she goes on a life’s journey again that will bring her to her father’s native land, where she will discover her's and her father’s true identities.

Danuta Pfeiffer burst onto the United States’ national scene as the attractive and talented blonde who co-hosted the 700 Club with Pat Robertson and Ben Kinchlow. Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity and Divine Wine is her story. Born Danuta Rylko, she reveals a story that is like a roller coaster ride of misery, starting with her family life and two unwanted pregnancies, success when she starts her professional career, happiness when she marries a successful insurance broker, and frustration as her life seems to crumble before her very eyes. Juxtaposed with their daring trip in the harsh winter to Alaska, her early life story is a tale of love and courage. Her creative writing style makes this book a compelling read. The journey to Alaska, told with snippets of a life she leaves behind, adds an element of thrill and expectation that makes the reader read on and on. In the final part of the book, her father’s story and her crumbling marriage make an interesting juxtaposition. And just as we think we know how her story ends, it takes another turn that is completely unexpected. Hers is an extraordinary life told in a remarkable way!

Jane Finch

Chiseled by Danuta Pfeiffer is the biography of the author’s life from her chaotic and desperate childhood and through into adulthood. Danuta was known to many as the co-host of The 700 Club with Pat Robertson on CBN. The story relates how she and her family suffered from the dominance and abuse of her Polish father, and details the downward spiral of her childhood until she finds herself fleeing with her mother to Alaska. The journey is perilous and life-threatening and, even as she tries to make a life for herself in Anchorage, her troubled past continues to haunt her. It is only when she finally moves to California that she is able to take some sort of control, although troubled relationships appear to dog her. The story continues as she finds herself co-hosting on the Christian Broadcasting Network until struggles with her faith move her on and cause her to reflect on her life.

This is an amazing story and I had to keep reminding myself that it was a biography and not a work of fiction, because the trials and struggles that the young Danuta went through defies belief. It is a tribute to the author that her writing was so descriptive and emotive that I was unable to put it down until the end. The strength of Danuta, wherever or whoever that may come from, is apparent throughout as she suffers abuse, humiliation, deprivation, desertion, and eventually the death of the one person who was her worst enemy yet was secretly idolised by her. This story will stay with me for a long time and, apart from the story itself, I give enormous credit to the standard of writing which made this a truly memorable read.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine by Danuta Pfeiffer is a true story. Danuta Pfeiffer used to host The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, but she disappeared with no warning. She left to try to come to terms with her past, a life of chaos living with her father. Danuta has lived a colorful life – raped as a teenager with her father blaming her for the rape, she escaped to Alaska, unmarried and pregnant. She suddenly found herself as a TV evangelist, involved in the presidential election. She married a man who turned out to be an alcoholic. Her life has been turned upside down in more ways than one and more than once but, a true survivor, she moved on to pastures new as a wine-maker in Oregon. The horrors of her past are not over though as a trip to Poland, to the Carpathian Mountains, finds her uncovering secrets that involve her family; secrets that she was never meant to find out. Her journey to discover the real truth starts now.

Chiseled by Danuta Pfeiffer is a powerful story, told by a woman who lived a life of lies and deceit. I found it gripping, one of those books that is not easy to let go of. As well as being the true story of her journey to find herself, to find the real truth about her life and her family, it’s also a story that encourages others to start their own journeys, a story of hope and courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I believe that Danuta is a brave and courageous woman. I hope others can take after her shining example and set their own world to rights.