A former New York publicist's memoir, written as an “open letter” to an imaginary daughter, about the circumstances and personal choices that caused her to remain childless.
Grossinger grew up the only daughter of a widowed Polish-born woman with a mysterious past. When she was 7, her father’s first cousin and scion of the family that owned Grossinger’s, “the most famous Jewish resort hotel in America,” invited mother and daughter to live in the Catskills. Treated like the poor relations they were, Karla worked long hours as a hostess without complaint while the author “did whatever the Grossinger family told me” and never expressed the anger she felt at the treatment she and her mother received. The author still managed to mingle with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Lewis and Jackie Robinson, who stayed at the hotel as performers or visitors. Precocious and intelligent, she began college at Brandeis at age 15 and then began work as a fundraiser for the City of Hope in Los Angeles. After a brief marriage that would leave her emotionally shattered for life, Grossinger went to New York City, where she opened her own PR agency and represented such luminaries as Betty Friedan and Elsa Maxwell. Later, she became a publicist for Playboy and the infamous Playboy Club, and after that, a successful travel writer. Despite her career triumphs, Grossinger never came to terms with her husband’s rejection of her and became a woman who “desperately feared commitment.” Eventually, she found long-term love, but it was with a married man who refused to “break up his home any more than it was already broken.” Grossinger does not regret the trajectory of her remarkable life, nor does she apologize for it, but the narrative is disappointingly pedestrian and offers only glimmers of poignancy.
Honest but undistinguished.