From Publishers Weekly
Not surprisingly, it takes an older woman to write a great kiss-and-tell memoir—who else would have enough lovers under her belt? Vanderbilt opens with an appetizer of schoolgirl sex with a chum from Miss Porter's School in the 1930s and then regales readers with a star-studded cast of intimates—Howard Hughes, Leopold Stokowski, Bill Paley, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, among others. Some were one-night-stands, some torrid affairs; three or four she even married. Romance, after all, is "the search for something else, a renewal and a hope for transformation in life." In her less giddy moments, Vanderbilt considers how some of this relentless love-affairing may have been provoked by an unhappy childhood. She was only 10 when her mother lost custody of her in an infamous public trial; young Gloria was sent to live with cold Aunt Gertrude Whitney. When she was 21 and inheriting her fortune, husband Stokowski persuaded her to cut off financial support for her mother, which alienated mother and daughter for another 20 years. While there's a little venting about men who've swindled her, it's the dishy gossip—Paley chasing her around the sofas in his living room, Truman Capote basing Breakfast at Tiffany's
on life at her brownstone—that keeps the pages turning. Even in the last chapter, Vanderbilt's going on about some man who's "the Nijinsky of cunnilingus." Ah, toujours l'amour! Photos.
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Is this book an heiress-turned-actor tells-all type? Or is it a desire to unburden the mind of memories and stories for the public good? Whatever the motivation, Vanderbilt once again (following Once Upon a Time
, 1986, and A Mother's Story
, 1997) unleashes her autobiographical instincts in her search for parental love. It's all related in a breathless tone, with not much depth but with a great number of famous names, from Frank Sinatra and Bill Paley to Marlon Brando and the current to-remain-anonymous celebrity. Those addicted to star magazines like People
will find Vanderbilt's account a good way to understand a bygone era of glamor. Others might be attracted by the "poor little rich girl" series of romances. Expect some demand for what one might hope is the last in a series. Barbara JacobsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved