February 5, 2014

A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston: Review

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Let me just preface this review by saying that I admire Anjelica Huston. I just love her face. It's a great face and she's a great actress. I'm not sure if she's a writer. I don't believe she used a ghostwriter for A Story Lately Told and it shows.

The first chapters are of her life as a little girl in Ireland on her father's estate of St Clerans. These chapters are just a random collection of memories: things they had, places they went, people they knew. It doesn't flow as a story and it's very dry. There's a lot of stuff but not a lot of heart behind it. It's like she would suddenly remember something and jot it down. It drove me bonkers.

Her father was John Huston, the director, who married a much younger woman, Enrica Soma, or Ricki, as she was called. She was his fourth wife and almost immediately he was absent from her and their children's lives. In fact, it seems as if his every visit to St Clerans was an event, like the Queen visiting. Anjelica comes across as worshiping him. What I got from this memoir was that he was a man who took whatever he wanted and was very careless with other people's hearts.

After ten chapters or so of who went where and what they did there, her memoirs take a disturbing turn. When Anjelica is just a teenager, she loses her virginity to a 28 year old man. She's very matter of fact about this and really why wouldn't she be? The way she grew up, this kind of thing was No Big Deal. Her father wasn't around to warn about guys like this and he hit on one of her teen friends as well. Her mom offered her no guidance or protection from these kind of men. This is just what was expected. Still, she was just a naive kid and after her mother died in a car accident, she fell for the worst kind of guy: Bob Richardson. He was 42 years old and she just 18. He mentally abused her for years.

I felt absolutely disgusted that these predatory men would take advantage of a young girl and no one did a thing about it. It was just how it was. If they would try it with the daughter of John Huston, who wouldn't they try it with? No wonder we have the problems in the entertainment industry in regards to women when this was the expected and acceptable behaviour of powerful men for decades. (Google Bob's son Terry. That apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) I ranted on and on about this after I read that part to my husband.

One of the problems with this memoir is that she writes everything in such a factual way. I never got any sense of how she felt about these events. There is too much telling and not much showing. Her life was exciting. Everyone she met was a Somebody. She traveled, modeled, and acted. Still, I felt like these were just things that happened to her. There's not a lot of who she really is.

She would also just plop down people's names like the reader is just supposed to know who they were. It is very disorienting. A disappointment of mine is that there is a lack of photographs, just a black and white photo at the start of every chapter. Considering how often she and her family were photographed, I would have expected more. It would have helped to put names to faces.

This volume ends just after she finally dumps Bob's sorry ass and settles down some in LA. The next part of the memoir is yet to come. I'm not sure if I'm going to read it. I think I'll just admire Anjelica from afar.

5 comments :

  1. I listened to this on audio and she read it in a monotone voice. Between that and the emotionless writing, it just didn't work for me.

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    1. I would have hoped that her reading it would have added some life to it. I guess not.

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  2. I can't believe that even memoirs are series now.

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  3. I'm also an Angelica Houston fan. I wonder if she can't face her emotions from that time in her life? Especially if she was being emotionally abused by her husband. That being said, this would probably have been better as a psychiatric exercise rather than a published memoir.

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  4. I was looking quite forward to this book, but your's is the second so-so review I've read. And i haven't read any raving reviews. She is a beautiful and great actress. She appears to have lived an intriguing life, but maybe a ghost writer would have helped?

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