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A Mother's Story Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1997

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1988, Gloria Vanderbilt's 23-year-old son Carter committed suicide. As Vanderbilt looked on, Carter swung away from the terrace wall of her 14th-floor New York apartment and, in Vanderbilt's words, "He let go." In this poignant memoir, Vanderbilt reflects on her own painful history and what she describes as "the final loss, the fatal loss that stripped me bare." She thought, she says, that she could not survive the death of her son. This memoir is a testimony to her courage and her own return to life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1988, the author's 23-year-old son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper--Princeton graduate, editor at American Heritage, outwardly confident and in control of his life--committed suicide, falling from the terrace of her Manhattan apartment as she watched helplessly. This luminous, wise, healing and deeply moving memoir opens with Vanderbilt's flashbacks to other personal losses, including abandonment by her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, who left for Paris in 1925, dumping her at the age of one year on her maternal grandmother and an Irish nurse; the death of her father, Reginald, three months later; and the death of her actor/screenwriter husband, Wyatt Cooper, in 1978 after he suffered several heart attacks. Some of these traumas were covered in her 1985 autobiography, Once Upon a Time, and the self-conscious narrative is padded with diary excerpts from 1971. But when Vanderbilt finally recalls her son's death--which she believes was the result of a psychotic episode induced by a prescription allergy drug, Proventil--the writing shines, communicating her almost unbearable pain and sorrow with shattering intensity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452278228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452278226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an unexpected jewel that was given to me by a friend during a time in my life where I was struggling with myself and my path in life. Everyone can associate with the events and emotions conveyed in this touching account of a mother losing her son. Honest, personal, and moving, the author invites us into a sacred place and shares her tragedy with the world with loving care. At times I felt embarassed, as if I were trespassing into a private and personal memory. It is more than a book about loss and heart ache, it is a book about life.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on January 13, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Gloria Vanderbilt's novel isn't about Gloria, it's about Suicide and the aftermath of depression and grief. Even in the ever increasing, unwanted clique of suicide survivors, it's still fairly rare for those who have actually witnessed the suicide of our dearly loved ones to find help for our special sorrow. Suicide of a loved one is hard enough to deal with, but there's a distinctive anguish that must be dealt with when such a disturbing, shocking, and painful life-taking event is witnessed.

Such an event separates us from the rest of society in an uncomfortable and agonizing way, and no one could have been more separated from her feelings than the last American Debutante: Gloria Vanderbilt. Raised to be a "lady", to never show strong emotions, to remain in control at all times, Gloria experienced many shattering events, but her "glass bubble" broke when her son committed suicide before her very eyes. Gloria had to break her glass bubble in order to survive, to deal with the overpowering emotion exclusive to survivors of suicide, and she poignantly shares her journey in this heartrending account of her son's life and death. Breaking her "bubble" was a gutsy act, one that perhaps you are facing now. I found strength in her words, and courageousness in her willingness to share her unique pain. Her story is about celebrating her son's life and accomplishments, remembering him as he was before his illness overtook his life, and about her courage to "break the glass bubble" and share her deep, heartfelt emotion and pain in order to help others in spite of her upbringing, which encouraged a lady to bottle up feelings.

The stigma attached to suicide, and even those who are left behind, is often crippling.
Read more ›
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Kona VINE VOICE on October 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Gloria Vanderbilt describes herself as living from earliest childhood in an "unbreakable glass bubble," a sense of being isolated from people because she was unlovable and unworthy, unable to feel deep emotions. Though she knew happiness for the first time with her fourth husband Wyatt Cooper and her sons, she still felt tinges of being cut off from reality. Her husband's death started to crack the unbreakable bubble surrounding her soul, and it shattered completely and forever when she witnessed her son Carter commit suicide, when he was 23.

She then was able to feel the deepest pain and guilt, and to acknowledge the boundless joy he had brought to her. She writes in a disjointed manner, flashing back and forth with journal entries and short reflections about events in her life leading up to Carter's death, which she describes in acute detail. Her musings are written to herself and to Carter, except for one chapter in which she reaches out to readers who are dealing with loss; she never imagined she could survive after her son's death, but she did, and given enough time, others will, too.

This little book is short enough, and compelling enough, to read in one sitting. Her reflections are deeply personal, and yet universally understood.

Kona
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Phillips on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this a year or two ago. It touched me very much. How a mother, especially a very famous one, deals with the tragic suicide of her son is heartbreaking.

It gave me a bit of insight into how this hideous incident affected both her life as well as that of her equally famous son, Anderson Cooper. (well from Gloria's perspective at least.)

A short book, but a very interesting read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rolla Crockatt on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy read, very emotional book, the way she show strength after such a tragedy, love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Bassi on December 25, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Gloria Vanderbilt is an amazing person. how she has lived a life full of grief and kept pushing forward is inspiring. she is an prolific writer. i have read nearly all her books and i am looking forward to more. she writes the way she feels, is so willing to be vulnerable. moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Haute Literati on November 8, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I would like to extend my highest accolades to Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper for sharing her insufferable life experience of losing a child. The 144 pages of text are intimate and insightful. She provides spiritual and emotional strength to anyone who has brooked the loss of a loved one. Not only is this story about the incomparable loss of a child it relates to the process of grieving and dealing with loss on all levels. While reading, one will encounter excerpts from her personal diary that are not given context but allow the readers to draw their own meaning from them.

It begins with an introduction of her life and then leads into the loss of her son Carter and the difficult periods thereafter. The book is then concluded with an Epilogue providing a new perspective, a form of closure and new discovery to help sustain the motivation to move forward. I hope that once you read this book it will elicit the same response within you.

Regardless the reason for your pain, we must feel it to experience happiness. These two emotions bond all of us together as humans. They are universal. Just Aknowledge it and use each day to conquer it.
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