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Her Last Death: A Memoir Paperback – October 7, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Sonnenberg is living proof that money and privilege don't insure happiness ... or even a glimpse at normalcy.
Sonnenberg's grandfather was one of New York City's most successful publicity machines. Her father was somewhat of a literary star, especially during the 1960s. He grew up in one of the city's most recognizable mansions, The Fish House, at 19 Gramercy Park South. He had a fling with Susanna's mother when she was 15, got her pregnant and married her when she was 16.
Sonnenberg's maternal roots are just as impressive, even though she changes their names, so we can't Google them for more background. Her maternal grandfather was a successful musician and wrote tunes for the movies. Her grandmother could have been Carole Lombard's twin. After the two divorced, 'Patsy,' as Sonneberg calls her, had houses in Barbados, London and Monte Carlo.
Forget Joan Crawford and the wire hangers. 'Daphne' was addicted to drugs, sex and rock 'n rollers. If Sonnenberg has written the truth, it's a wonder Daphne survived her addiction to morphine, cocaine, Valium and percodan, not to mention her binge drinking. She was hospitalized for mental meltdowns on numerous occasions. She taught Sonnenberg how to give her drugs with needles. When Sonnenberg was 12, Daphne gave the child cocaine, telling her it was important for her to know the difference between quality cocaine and powder that had been "cut," or watered down. Daphne seduced her daughter's boyfriends. She had sex on Daphne's bed at boarding school. She punched her daughter in the stomach, a lot.Read more ›
The book started off wrongly in the preface where the author, Susannah Sonnenberg, warns us that the only "real" character in the book is her; everyone else has a pseudonym and people and events may be composites of characters and situations. That is not the definition of a memoir, in my opinion. Rather, I felt I was reading fiction into which the author had inserted herself. Therefore, I have no idea if what she wrote actually happened as described or if the people she wrote about, including most of all, her mother and sister and her wealthy grandparents, really existed. A memoir, at least since James Frey got reamed out by Oprah, is about real people and real occurrences.
I also must admit I didn't like almost all of the people described in the book, including the author most of the time. Her husband remains a complete enigma (leading me to believe he's boringly normal) but that he doesn't seem to buy into her dramas says a lot about him. Her father has some interesting qualities and more so as his neurological disease has progressed. The mother, of course, is singularly distasteful in almost every aspect and it seems she has similarly doomed the younger sister. Her story is one of rampant, unrepentant child sexual abuse, passive aggressiveness, and deceit intended for no other purpose than to hurt her children in ways I haven't seen anywhere before. Everything she did was so inappropriately perfused with sexuality in dangerous and unspeakable ways. Should the author rear her two sons to be honest, decent, responsible, and loving adults, that will be a monumental credit to her ability to overcome her dreadful family.Read more ›
The premise of the memoir is an answer to a question: Why does a daughter refuse to fly from her Montana home to be at the bedside of her comatose mother? For the next 250 pages, Ms. Sonnenberg gives us, in excruciating detail, the reason for her decision. We learn that her mother, Daphne, is a pathological liar and a sex maniac. Disdainful of any personal boundaries that may separate her from her daughter, Daphne attempts to indoctrinate her young daughter into a world of hedonism where indiscriminate sexual encounters and casual use of addictive drugs abound..
Given this endless catalogue of abuse, it is paradoxical that Sonnenberg never figures out how to stop her own self-absorption. Both mother and daughter are self-absorbed and limited people; their addiction to conspicuous consumption distances themselves not only from each other, but from the real world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I give this book one star, but not because it seems unbelievable. It is in fact too believable, as I have a mentally ill mother who is completely similar. Read morePublished 5 months ago by S. D.
Enjoyed this memoir that explored the world of loving someone who was bipolar. Very well written and painfully honest. Would recommend.Published 9 months ago by Linda Lou
Didn't dislike it, but didn't love it. I've certainly read similar stories and memoirs. I get it and it doesn't surprise me how things turned out in the end. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Lowly Peon
An interesting voyage into the relationships between aging mothers and grown daughters, and between sisters that have handled childhood trauma in very different ways and are still... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Carrie Zeidman
Though the book started off slow for me by the end of reading it I was glad I had stuck with it. I will say I don't think it is a book I would read more than once, but it is worth... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Aubrey
First of all, let me preface this by saying that I give this 4 stars because I reserve 5-star reviews for masterpieces, and those are few. Read morePublished 23 months ago by wyldwoman
Found this book at a thrift store for a buck. Got my money's worth and then some. Susanna Sonnenberg's memoir, HER LAST DEATH, documents a horrific childhood with a mother who was... Read morePublished on January 13, 2014 by Timothy J. Bazzett
I would never have ordered this book if I had known what it was about. It has a horrible storyline. The idea of a mother behaving that way is appalling.Published on January 9, 2014 by Madeleine