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Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547152574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547152578
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Distinguished celebrity biographer and Vanity Fair contributing editor Bosworth recounds the life story of an American icon in all its heady--and at times, unabashedly scandalous--glory. With consummate skill and insight, the author follows Fonda... Bosworth's coverage of Fonda...is as epic as the life that she chronicles. Reading to savor."
-Kirkus, starred

"[Bosworth's] remarkable reconstruction of long-ago events has a fly-on-the-wall viewpoint, written with such intimacy that it sometimes generates the strange sensation of being present with Fonda and her friends... Bosworth has succeeded in capturing Fonda's step-by-step transformation from wide-eyed, apolitical ingenue to the poised personality of recent decades."
-Publishers Weekly, starred

"Watching Jane Fonda wrestle with her many passions has been one of the most fascinating stories of the past fifty years. Brilliant, beautiful, achingly vulnerable, self-wounding and yet with a Joan of Arc sense of self-determination whenever she steps into the spotlight. Fonda is one of the greatest film stars to ever appear on the screen. Her life deserves to be re-evaluated as it is in Patricia Bosworth's Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman."
—Alec Baldwin

"Patricia Bosworth has written an irresistible biography of the accomplished controversial actress whose roles on screen and off helped define a generation. Whether you love Jane Fonda or abhor her, the Private Life of a Public Woman is a detailed and generous exploration not only of the contradictory world Fonda grew up in but of the many people who shaped her."
—Jeannette Walls

"Bosworth’s expedition into every corner of Fonda’s life makes for far more than a spellbinding biography. It sweeps the reader into a cultural history of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, when this female icon helped define the causes of the era. The access gained by Bosworth is impressive—lovers, stepmothers, and ex-husbands share their secrets, adding to what will certainly become the definitive portrait of a woman conflicted, torn between ferocious ambition, family, and feminist causes. Bosworth’s rendering of Fonda’s interior chaos becomes a revealing probe into the female psyche."
—Gail Sheehy, author of Passages

"Patricia Bosworth’s brilliant detective work has unearthed so much about Jane Fonda that I didn’t know—so much feeling, so much courage, so much hurt. Reading this book, it occurred to me that Fonda, despite her brilliant acting, despite her activism, despite her life led in the headlines, was really the archetypal woman of her generation: a woman torn between love and work, family and accomplishment. Bosworth’s book is far from another Hollywood biography; it is a human portrait and, at the same time, a major American life. Reading this book, living Jane’s life along with her, is an adventure and a pleasure."
—William Mann, author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn and How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
"Jane Fonda was born with beauty and talent, which brought her fame and wealth. Now she's blessed with a biographer who knows Hollywood and understands the human condition. Nothing about Fonda's life (her obsession with her looks, her lovers—male and female—her husbands, her money, and her elusive father) escapes the keen eye of Patricia Bosworth, who tells the life story of a cinema icon, one of the most intriguing women of our era. You will be enthralled from start to finish."
—Kitty Kelley, author of Oprah: A Biography

"Gracefully written and deeply researched, Patricia Bosworth's Jane Fonda is not only a first-class biography but a thoughtful,sympathetic, yet objective, study of a central figure in the preoccupying drama of American celebrity life as it has been played out over the past half century."
—Richard Schickel, author of Conversations with Scorsese

"As an heiress to Hollywood royalty, survivor of childhood trauma, sexpot, movie star, fitness guru, activist, trophy wife, and serial self-reinventor, Jane Fonda has embodied every theme in modern American mythology. And I can't think of anyone better equipped to tell her story than Patricia Bosworth. Her superb reporting, combined with an equally sure understanding of what the details add up to, has produced a clear-sighted but sympathetic and compelling portrait of a woman who really is an emblem of our age."
—Amanda Vaill, author of Everybody Was so Young

About the Author

PATRICIA BOSWORTH, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has known Jane Fonda since they were students at the Actors Studio and has been writing about her since 1968.  Bosworth has also written acclaimed biographies of Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, and Marlon Brando.  She lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Jane Fonda -loved her in Barbarella, hated her in Hanoi.
david l. poremba
This book has great depth in this controversial period as it does with other portions of her life.
R. Spell
I recommend the book to anyone interested in behind the scenes life of Miss Fonda.
C. Siegel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Google "Jane Fonda +hate site" and you get 10 million results.

Sarah Palin, in contrast, gets 109 million. Obama: 101 million. George Bush: 106 million. Donald Trump: 37 million.

But it's not just raw numbers that matter here. It's context. Palin, Obama, Bush and Trump are contemporary figures. Jane Fonda is a 73-year-old actress who had her last box office hit thirty years ago. So why is she hated?

Mostly, it's for something that happened forty years ago --- at the height of the Vietnam War, she visited North Vietnam. There she not only sat on an anti-aircraft gun and made a "public service" announcement to American bomber pilots, she visited a POW camp. There she met some captured soldiers. They slipped her messages to bring to their families --- and she promptly turned them over to the North Vietnamese, who tortured (and, in one case, killed) those prisoners.

Wait! That never happened!!! But that untruth is a measure of the controversy that has swirled around Jane Fonda for most of her adult life. Actress, sex symbol, feminist, activist --- in every sphere, she presses buttons.

Some of these buttons reflect the sickness of our society. A sex symbol who likes sex and who plays a sci-fi goddess and a prostitute --- that gets our blood pumping. A public figure who skips the USO tour to organize coffee houses for dissidents in the military --- imagine what they've said about her at the VFW. A bra-burner who shows women how to feel strong --- that didn't fly with the crowd that likes their women barefoot-and-pregnant.

But there are also internal buttons --- the buttons pushed in her by her parents, her producers, her lovers.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on September 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an exceptional book about a controversial figure of a certain period in America. I doubt seriously if the book will be of much interest to the younger generation as they have no frame of reference for Jane Fonda as she did not continue her exceptional career as an actress or as an activist and therefore she has not been as high profile for a number of years. In fact, most younger people may only remember her as Ted Turner's wife sitting in the Braves box doing the Tomahawk. That's really sad because as this exceptional but very detailed book details, she is a fascinating creature who lived an incredibly full life including controversy that will follow her for the rest of her life for her episode in North Vietnam.

All this is detailed in this book. Probably the most insightful part of this book is her frame of reference of dysfunctional family life punctuated by her mother's suicide but other slights earlier are detailed in the book specifically by her father and his family relationships. Personally, I found the most interesting part to be her Svengali relationship with her husband Roger Vadim and how he molded her into the person she became until she broke his spell and became the activist Jane. Her "life education" of young adulthood modeling and acting in Europe is fascinating and worth the read alone.

Hanoi Jane is also covered in detail as well as her interesting relationship with Tom Hayden. Tom doesn't come off so well which is quite interesting that this man could be married to one of the most beautiful, intelligent women and probably never really appreciate it. One look at the magnificent cover here shows this appeal. This book has great depth in this controversial period as it does with other portions of her life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had already read Fonda's autobiography My Life So Far before picking up Bosworth's book. Interestingly, Fonda had reservations about talking to Bosworth because Jane was writing My Life So Far at the time and was conflicted about another book being written about her. But Bosworth prevailed enough to create far more than a light book, full of fluff and praise. It goes well beyond that.

The result? An intimate and very personal look at both the high and low points of Fonda's life and career,including plenty of insightful info about Henry Fonda's often strained relationship with his daughter. Bosworth reveals that Henry's difficulties with women weren't limited to Jane. His marriages suffered because of his distant nature and inability to handle strong emotions (offscreen) .

Jane Fonda had early childhood traumas ( including one that involved her mother) that marked her for life. For those who do not already know about Fonda's mother, I won't add a spoiler. Add that trauma to father's less than nurturing nature and Jane was left with an insecurity that lasted for much of her life. She yearned for her father's approval and this yearning extended to her relationships with men whose praise she also sought.

From Fonda's childhood on, Bosworth creates a psychological study of Fonda.

But even though the book was very well- written I could not give it more than 4 stars. While I learned much about Fonda, I did feel the biography could have been tighter. Will it appeal to more than diehard fans of Fonda? I can't help wondering about that and did find it slow going at times.

Like it or not, there is no doubt that Bosworth did her research - and it shows - resulting in am ambitious work.
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