Bare-stripped life of the husky-throated Southern charmer and Oscar-winner for Hud. It's been a devastating life and Neal takes you under the skin, from her long affair with married Gary Cooper to her near-fatal brain aneuryism and difficult quarter-century marriage to icicle short-story writer Roald Dahl. Her successes are heroic, her knockdowns deep and vast. Born in Packard, Kentucky in 1926, the daughter of a local coal-and-coke mine company manager, Neal cut her own earthy path from the start--smoking early and finding herself among the sexiest, most sought-after girls in school. She also got into dramatics early, put on her own shows and invited neighbors to witness her stage-glow. She acted in college, in summer theater, finally landed on Broadway as an apple in the eyes of Richard Rodgers and Eugene O'Neill, and was tapped by Lillian Hellman for Another Part of the Forest. Her first big movie hit (now a camp classic) was Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, opposite Gary Cooper. Pat and Gary kept their vibes hot for the camera, waiting until filming ended to let their smolder erupt. Cooper was her great love but would not leave his wife, Rocky, and daughter, Maria; he sat outside in his car while Pat had an abortion. Her marriage to Dahl produced five children. First daughter Olivia died very suddenly of measles encephalitis; her son Theo was struck by a cab, had horrible skull injuries. Then Pat herself was blasted. She credits Dahl with saving her life by his martinet style of family management and getting her back to work. Later, Pat found herself cast out of her family, her children siding with Dahl and his new mistress (""that bitch!""). Back in the States, she went through hell, wound up as a guest in a Benedictine monastery, began this book as a labor of recovery, and at last became fast friends with Rocky and Maria. Tremendous, a life-and-a-half, and no fairy tale like the 1981 TV-movie bio Pat and Roald (though Pat loved Glenda Jackson's Pat).