The long-suffering wife of Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) tells the story of her turbulent relationship with the legendary soul singer.
Gaye’s debut memoir, a faithful recollection of life with a difficult superstar, is as frustrating as it is compulsively readable. On one level, it’s yet another tell-all confessional from someone who fell into the trap of loving an artist primarily through the idealized image his work publicly projected. But what separates this memoir from so many other cookie-cutter memoirs about celebrity romances gone wrong is that the author is so deeply in touch with her own flaws and vulnerabilities. A girlhood crush on budding superstar Marvin quickly expanded into something more when she met the soft-spoken musician through a friend of her mother’s, who was Marvin’s producer at the time. Besides the initial offbeat love triangle that the teenage Jan found herself in—Marvin was 33 years old and married to a 51-year-old at the time—she was getting involved with someone who had been the product of a profoundly warped household. After a torrid initial romance with her musical hero, the author found herself in the throes of marriage and motherhood, desperate to keep Marvin’s increasingly flagging attention away from other women. As their relationship progressed to rockier, more adult stages—always accompanied by copious amounts of marijuana and cocaine—her psychological dependence on Marvin only grew, while Marvin’s drug-crazed behavior became increasingly unhinged and unpredictable, right up until he was tragically shot dead in an argument with his father. Gaye's explicitly confessional account of her doomed uphill struggle to stay with Marvin is a prime example of how obsessive celebrity worship can so easily (and dangerously) masquerade as enduring love.
A fascinating, unsentimental account of a be-careful-what-you-wish-for romance.