SOPHIA: Living and Loving by A. E. Hotchner
Kirkus Star

SOPHIA: Living and Loving

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That's Sophia as in Loren--originally (illegitimately) Scicolone, eventually Ponti. Why Ponti? Hotchner, who dubbed for Doris Day in her own story, stages the answer pronto in a flashback: at Scicolone's deathbed, ""I realize that the story of my life must begin and end with my father. I sought him everywhere. I married him."" (Later, mourning Marilyn Monroe: if only ""she had found a father, as I found Carlo. . . ."") The same ""Sophia"" whose early taboo on affairs with married men ""does not mean that I did not 'pet' with Carlo,"" endured a ""fire of calumny that tempered the steel of our relationship"" before their 1966 wedding as French citizens (finally invulnerable to Italian bigamy laws). She had, after all, survived a childhood of disgrace and deprivation in a Neapolitan village so hard hit by the war that everybody slept in a single ratinfested railway tunnel and virtually starved. At 14, Sophia blossomed, won a part as an extra in Rome's cinecitta, supported her mother and sister by modelhag in fumetti (serial soap-opera photo-strips); at 14, she was ""discovered"" by Ponti. At the height of her film career came the devastating miscarriages and the famous full-term isolation-pregnancies that yielded two sons. . . . Hotchner milks, embroiders, inserts, as though he doesn't recognize Sophia's history as already extravagantly dramatic: less a mouthpiece than an amplifier, he tends to drown out his subject's vitality, at least by comparison to Alan Levy's Forever, Sophia (below). Different as they are in approach and in emphasis, the two books share more than a few of Sophia's lines--attributed by Levy to the appropriate source, but not so here. Hotchner closes with an unbecoming (to him and Sophia) appendix of remarks on grooming and cooking, like ""So, once you find your own style. . . make it the foundation of everything you wear."" Whatever class this lacks, it won't suffer for want of promotion.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Morrow