A Family Memoir
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Breathless writing, tight structure, and an endless A-list of stars make this memoir by the younger Garland daughter a movie fan’s parfait. Daughter of Garland and businessman Sid Luft, Lorna writes this book neither to glorify nor to vilify her family, but to tell “a truer . . . story” about “a group of people who grew up in the public eye and got through it all the best way they could.” Thankfully, understatement ends there. Beginning with Frances Gunn’s first steps onstage at age two and ending with her daughter Lorna’s happy second marriage, the book is rife with dramatic events. Skillfully divided into two parts—life with Mama, life after her death—it details Garland’s decades-long chemical dependency (including her first studio-sanctioned Benzedrine) and Lorna’s early life as her caregiver, her emotional swings, and especially her great love for her two daughters and her son, Joe. Lorna also charts Garland’s hard-won sobriety and attempts to bring Liza to detoxification programs. Throughout, the book brims with famous friends: Uncle Frank Sinatra, girlfriend’s parents Bogart and Bacall, JFK and his sweet-voiced wife Jackie, early love Barry Manilow. Everything is presented in a pleasingly sustained voice that blends once-stylish phrasings, self-help lingo, and quirky if awkward locutions to create a linguistic world in which “damn straight, “dysfunctional,” and the kooky line “For every camel, there’s a last straw, and there was for me” coexist. It also suits the writer, for as she presents herself—by turns mature, facile, feeling, and gracious’she is a ’90s everywoman, the person you’d see yourself being if you had been the child of a troubled movie legend. Confessional yet affectionate, this grants weight and closure to an overdiscussed film family. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Literary Guild selection; author tour; TV satellite tour; ABC-TV miniseries)

Pub Date: April 7th, 1998
ISBN: 0-671-01899-X
Page count: 407pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1998