An elegant, witty, frank, touching, and deeply personal account of the loves both great and fleeting in the life of one of America's most celebrated and fabled women.Born to great wealth yet kept a virtual prisoner by the custody battle that raged between her proper aunt and her self-absorbed, beautiful mother, Gloria Vanderbilt grew up in a special world. Stunningly beautiful herself, yet insecure and with a touch of wildness, she set out at a very early age to find romance. And find it she did. There were love affairs with Howard Hughes, Bill Paley, and Frank Sinatra, to name a few, and one-night stands, which she writes about with delicacy and humor, including one with the young Marlon Brando. There were marriages to men as diverse as Pat De Cicco, who abused her; the legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski, who kept his innermost secrets from her; film director Sidney Lumet; and finally writer Wyatt Cooper, the love of her life.Now, in an irresistible memoir that is at once ruthlessly forthright, supremely stylish, full of fascinating details, and deeply touching, Gloria Vanderbilt writes at last about the subject on which she has hitherto been silent: the men in her life, why she loved them, and what each affair or marriage meant to her.
Not surprisingly, it takes an older woman to write a great kiss-and-tell memoir-who else would have enough lovers under her belt? Vanderbilt opens with an appetizer of schoolgirl sex with a chum from Miss Porter's School in the 1930s and then regales readers with a star-studded cast of intimates-Howard Hughes, Leopold Stokowski, Bill Paley, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, among others. Some were one-night-stands, some torrid affairs; three or four she even married. Romance, after all, is "the search for something else, a renewal and a hope for transformation in life." In her less giddy moments, Vanderbilt considers how some of this relentless love-affairing may have been provoked by an unhappy childhood. She was only 10 when her mother lost custody of her in an infamous public trial; young Gloria was sent to live with cold Aunt Gertrude Whitney. When she was 21 and inheriting her fortune, husband Stokowski persuaded her to cut off financial support for her mother, which alienated mother and daughter for another 20 years. While there's a little venting about men who've swindled her, it's the dishy gossip-Paley chasing her around the sofas in his living room, Truman Capote basing Breakfast at Tiffany's on life at her brownstone-that keeps the pages turning. Even in the last chapter, Vanderbilt's going on about some man who's "the Nijinsky of cunnilingus." Ah, toujours l'amour! Photos. Agent, Mort Janklow. (Oct.) Forecast: Vanderbilt's memoir is tasty gossip for an older crowd-after all, there're lots of people who couldn't care less about Madonna or Britney but would like to know what it was like to date Howard Hughes. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Simon & Schuster
November 19, 2009
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