MAGGIE by John Sanford


A Love Story
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 A moving testimony to the endurance of love and the human spirit as veteran writer Sanford (View from this Wilderness; A More Goodly Country, etc.) celebrates his 50-year-plus marriage to the beloved late Maggie, screenwriter of the Oscar-winning True Grit. As he tells his love story, Sanford occasionally includes extracts from his other writings, in which he analyzes figures as diverse as T.S. Eliot, Richard Nixon, and Billy Graham. Sanford's long writing career--a succession of small successes and large disappointments over six decades--offers a poignant undertone to his tale, as well as a reminder that the writer's path can be a stony one. The Sanfords met in 1936, at Paramount: Maggie Roberts was a successful screenwriter who'd worked her way up from secretary to Hollywood prominence, while Sanford was a novelist brought from New York to work on scripts. The two married a year later, and, with Maggie's encouragement, Sanford abandoned screenwriting: Maggie recognized that he wrote to suit himself and at his own pace. For the rest of her life, Maggie not only supported her husband in comfort--racehorses, Jaguars, attractive houses--but sent money to his ailing father as well as to her own family. It's a generosity that Sanford equally generously acknowledges here--but Maggie was to pay an even greater price. Though Sanford was a lifelong Communist with somewhat naive and idealistic views, it was Maggie who would be hurt the most by his convictions. Joining the Party only because of her husband, she found that her appearance before HUAC made her unemployable for more than a decade, while Sanford was still able to get published. Maggie eventually went back to work for Columbia. She died in 1989. A sometimes too personal story--occasionally, conversations obviously meaningful in context sound stiff and dated here--but heartfelt in its affection and gratitude. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-942637-97-6
Page count: 417pp
Publisher: Barricade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993