I am a voracious reader. In fact, I was that geeky kid who finished her summer break reading list the first few weeks of June and then read the 'extra credit' books for fun. I am ashamed to admit that now days, most of my reading material is purchased at airport kiosks and leans toward the 'serial killer' and 'who-dun-it' fodder. It is with that confession in mind that I was surprised at myself that just before my trip to Harbour Island, I actually went to the neighborhood bookstore and selected 2 'real' books to take with me to read late at night in my room and on the beach. (It is amazing how much I can read if I have the stupid TV turned off, hmm.)
Two very different memoirs featuring two of Britain's most famous (living) celebrities. I feel pretty certain that I am one of the very few people in the world who decided to read those 2 particular books back to back - a Duchess and a Rock Legend, hmm. But, at the time, my reading choices seemed quite logical.
I started with The Duchess, but of course.
Duchess of Devonshire - Wait For Me - Memoirs
My Book Review - *****
I love her, truly!
Such fortitude, grace, character, and perseverance, The Duchess embodies all those wonderful and seemingly rare traits that are so obscured in 'fascinating' women these days (especially in America!). To be perfectly frank, I can not even imagine who her counter part might be in America today.
The Duchess is so open and vulnerable in her Memoirs. You learn of her 3 miscarriages, her beloved brother Tom's heroic death during The War. The impact of the deaths of several dear childhood friends fatally wounded during those great battles. Her sister Unity's attempted suicide. Her sister Diana and brother-in-law's 2 year imprisonment during The War for being suspected Nazi sympathizers. Her husband's brother Billy's unforeseen death. Her sister-in-law Kick Kennedy's tragic plane crash in France. The unthinkable betrayal of (sister) Nancy in regards to (sister) Diana's imprisonment. The extreme burden of debt the young married couple faced in regards to Chatsworth and the death taxes / penalties associated with such taxes. Her husband Andrew's much hidden (yet seemingly controlled) alcoholism.
So much of The Duchess' story reminds me of the quote - 'That which does not kill us makes us stronger.'
And, yet through it all, relaying all the sadness and tragedy, the Duchess never once falters and implies poor me. Instead, you get the distinctive impression that she looked at life quite positively. I guess that was her mother's influence and the influence of being brought up in the country to be completely self-sufficient and sensible (aside from baby chickens and baby pigs as dining table centerpieces, ha ha.)
My only criticism of the book is that I wish that she (The Duchess) had included even more photos of family and friends. But, I guess that is the sign of a really great book - leave the reader wanting more. Perhaps the follow up book could be Duchess of Devonshire - Cherished Photo Albums, ha ha.
And, I think the movie should star either Dame Judi Dench or Helen Mirren as The Duchess. Either actress would be completely believable.
P.S.- While waiting for the movie version of Wait For Me, rent Nancy Mitford's book-turned-movie The Pursuit of Love / Love in a Cold Climate. Most charming movie and I'm told the book is (of course) loosely based on the Mitford family. The first scene in the movie captures the eccentricities of the country life so wonderfully - noble father, hunting dogs, children, I can't tell you any more or I will give it all away.
by Keith Richards
Thinking back on why I bought this book actually had very little to do with Keith Richards and everything to do with an article that I had recently read about his beautiful wife Patti Hanson (they've been married for 27 years!) and her heroic fight against bladder cancer (stage 2). In the article, Patti lovingly pays tribute to her husband Keith whom she states if it wasn't for him she never would have made it through.
Huh, I thought?
That guy is still married to that really pretty model? They have two incredibly beautiful daughters? They live in Connecticut?
I think that I kind of got him tangled up there with 'ole Mick and all his tricks. I guess you can't judge a rock super legend by his album cover, ha ha.
Rolling Stones 1966 album cover on acid, I mean in 3D.
According to the book, - Yes, there were drugs, lots of drugs. And sadly, several close friends died as a result of an over indulgent lifestyle, but, somehow Keith survived it all and amazingly seems to remember it.
"We must reconsider our ideas on drugs," wrote Cecil Beaton in his diary. "It seems these boys (Rolling Stones) live off them, yet they seem extremely healthy and strong. We will see." - 1967 (page 217)
Turns out Keith is a really nice guy and the glue that kept The Stones together for all those years. I think that it's hilarious that he calls Mick Jagger 'Her Majesty,' (page 453) and kind of tragic that the press stalked him so - In 1973 the New Musical Express drew up a 'top 10 of rock stars most likely to die', and put Keith at number 1. (Keith was number 1 on that list for ten years straight.) (page 364)
Throughout the book, you really get that Keith was always in it for the music and the camaraderie of meeting and getting to play with his rock heroes and that perhaps Mick was in it for himself (money and accolades). When Mick decided to strike out on his own and declared in an interview that "the Rolling Stones are a millstone around my neck." (page 464), Keith was deeply hurt.
For me, the fun part about the book is to hear how so many of the songs were written and how the 'conspiracy theories' behind the songs are so laughable. For instance the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was always rumored to be about heroin (flash) when actually it was inspired by the gardener (Jack) jumpin' up and down trying to get the rain off his boots (page 240), ha ha.
The Rolling Stones have been together since 1962 (a year before I was born!). As far as I know, I have seen The Stones in concert 3 times. My only true confirmation for this number (3) is how many Stones t-shirts I remember owning; they were my favorite! (Concert t-shirt creed - You only wear the t-shirts of the concerts you actually went to. No giving a friend $20 bucks to pick you up one.) Apparently, I seem to have a very 'selective memory' as far as concerts go, ha ha. It would seem that Keith has a better long term memory than me, wink.
Probably the one thing that Keith Richards and I have in common - He too is a self proclaimed voracious reader! (page 522)
Previously read . . . .
I have to say that I was more creeped out reading the nonfiction book Monster In River Oaks than I have ever been reading a Stephen King or James Patterson murder mystery. The author of MIRO weaves a tale (told as a typical lawyer would tell it - complete indifference) of control, power, sexual deviancy, stupid wealth, stupid-er woman, physical, emotional & sexual abuse, . . . . .
But, at the end of the horrific tale, I'm thinking that the author is really asking the reader the very pointed question - Who is the Real Monster in the Story . . . . ?
My vote - JBJ.
Her instinct should have been - protect the cubs at all cost!
- - - - -
And, from the husband's perspective (lounge chair). . . . .
Issac read the book - The American
A really wonderful novel A Very Private Gentleman (1991) was written by Martin Booth and somehow 'hollywoodized' and renamed The American (2010) and made into a big screen movie starring my cinematic boyfriend George Clooney.
Issac loved the book so much that when we got home he couldn't wait to down load the movie on PPV and watch it from the comfort of his own couch.
Five minutes into the movie, Issac is muttering, "This is not right. This is not what the book said. They have 'it' all wrong. They completely missed the author's point."
I didn't read the book so I could care less if the director had 'it' all wrong. I had a completely different agenda for watching the movie. That being said, I don't know how the director could possibly make 1hr. and 45min. of G.C. that monotonous. There is not even one potential G.C. smirk in the whole movie.
Great read, lousy movie.
*The 'hollywoodized' book/movie The American should not be confused with the classic novel The American (1877) written by Henry James.