The “too ordinary” member of a famous Hollywood family recalls her unusual childhood.
By the time she was 16, Huston had already swum with Jack Nicholson, roller-skated with football legend Jim Brown and looked into the legendarily violet eyes of Marlon Brando. Unshakably level-headed, she decided they weren’t violet at all, but rather “bluey-gray.” Her refusal to mythologize the “special” people, including her movie-star sister, Anjelica, sets her book apart from the usual Hollywood memoir. The many brushes with fame came courtesy of her father’s family—the Hustons have produced three generations of Oscar winners—but they came at a price. Born to ballerina Ricki Soma, who was killed in a car accident when Allegra was only four, the author eventually learned that famed director John Huston was not her real father. Her story is about finding her place within this glamorous family, where she was too often an afterthought to the monumentally self-absorbed adults charged with raising her. She reconstructs memories of her mother and connecting with her biological father and his other children. A stunning amount of family drama surrounded her—serial adultery, divorce, alcoholism, child abuse—too much really for a child to bear, but Huston manages to make quiet sense of it all, weathering an emotional neglect that might have destroyed a weaker woman. By 21 she had completed an Oxford degree and embarked on a career in writing and publishing. The final, moving chapter jumps ahead a few years as the author brings together most of the important people in her life to celebrate the christening of her child. The confusion, hurt, jealousy and anger appear to have receded in favor of admirable compassion.
A graceful, surprisingly tender account of a life lived at the edge of fame.