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Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found Hardcover – April 7, 2009

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Huston�s memoir begins when she is five years old, learning of her mother�s death from her godfather. Although she is sent to live with her father, the film director John Huston, he is an intermittent presence in her life. Then, when she is 12, Allegra�s stepmother informs her that her real father is the British historian John Julius Norwich. Huston, who spent several years as an editor in British publishing before creating a writers� workshop in New Mexico, skillfully integrates her childhood memories with revelations from her mother�s correspondence, recounting her often-awkward encounters with my dad (Huston) and my father (Norwich) with great sensitivity. Although she spent part of her adolescence living with her older sister, Anjelica, there isn�t much in the way of Hollywood gossip beyond fleeting scenes of Marlon Brando playing chess and verbal abuse from Ryan O�Neal. Instead, the emphasis lies in young Allegra�s constant feelings of alienation and the subtle development of familial affections that culminate with Hustons and Norwichs coming together to witness the christening of her own son. Where many memoirists compete to see who�s had the most outrageous life, this story stands out in its quiet poignancy. 16 pages of b&w photographs not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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"This extraordinary book reveals the all but unendurable sorrow of loss and the courage of those unwilling to live in a world without love. Allegra Huston's memoir glimmers with triumphant wisdom. She has, above all, a great conscience, understanding that it is only what is mysterious that survives." -- Susanna Moore, author of The Big Girls and In the Cut

"I was entranced by Love Child, Allegra Huston's irresistible memoir...fluent, vivid and gripping." -- Caryn James, The Huffington Post

"A stunning and unusual memoir...this is simply a wonderful book -- part mystery, part journey, part heartbreak." -- Liz Smith, Variety

"Few autobiographical writers have such dizzying tales to tell...fascinating." --Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Extraordinary...[Huston] is an absolutely outstanding writer, incapable of writing a dull sentence." -- Lynn Barber, Telegraph (UK)

"As an adult, [Huston] realized how special her circumstances were.... [Love Child is] a memoir about her nomadic, singular life." -- Susan King, Los Angeles Times

"Allegra Huston's tender, heartbreaking and utterly riveting account of life...Love Child is an extraordinary story, beautifully told. [A] near-flawless memoir." -- Miranda Seymour, The Daily Mail (UK)

"Allegra Huston's account of her extraordinary early years, with its numerous, generally painful revelations, excels at capturing a child's-eye view of the chaotic adult world...scrupulously honest...wonderful." -- Christopher Hart, The Sunday Times (UK)

"You will not read anything so sublimely felt and exquisitely written in a good many years...It's a highly satisfying moral tale and a surpassing delight to read." -- Melik Kaylan,

"Skillfully written and rich with personal detail, this is a tumultuous story of loss, healing, and redemption." -- Larry Cox, The Tucson Citizen
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416551573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416551577
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Diana Lasalle on April 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Yes, it's that good. A story of fate, love, family, sex, loss, and redemption, Love Child is a tender, courageous memoir that is remarkably readable, intelligent and moving. Allegra is a masterful story teller, but beyond that she's funny, humane and endearingly self-aware. Most memoirs recount facts, this one invites us in and I often found myself wanting to talk back when someone was harsh to her. I wanted to hide out in the tress to catch a glimpse of her crazy grandfather doing hand stands on the widow's walk of one of the many homes she grew up in and I laughed out loud when Jack played an outrageous practical joke on Marlon Brando. I wanted to know her and in the end I wanted her to have a storybook ending. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time as a reminder that there is very little that can't be overcome if you let love find you -- and if this wonderful story isn't enough, there's a sixteen page family photo album in the middle that by itself is worth the price of the book!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Beckie on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't usually read memoirs, thinking them less interesting than the thrillers and mysteries that I usually read. So I smiled as I forced myself to close the book, unfinished, last night because I needed to get to sleep. This morning I snuggled back under a blanket to read to the end. I would say that's the sign of a well written tale and it smashed my prejudice against the genre. What was I thinking!

At first I was drawn to the story because of the Huston family connection. Even from the beginning, I'm sure I was looking forward to the 'good stuff' about father, John Huston, and sister Anjelica, and the film industry. But soon it was Allegra who I wanted to know.

Details of the more recent years are missing, although we do peek in on her current life in Taos NM, where Allegra seems happy and fulfilled, connected to family in every direction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By celeste huston on September 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I know first hand this whole story as I am allegra Huston's 2nd mother~she has a wonderful way with words and always showed her brilliance as a child which has followed her though her adult years..this is a must read for everyone.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A reader on April 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely brilliant. LOVE CHILD marks the debut of a major writer.

Allegra Huston's powers of description and characterization are breathtaking. Her portrait of John Huston is quite simply a masterpiece: she has written the classic portrait of one of Hollywood's most complex, fascinating, and elusive characters.

Huston has peopled the pages of her dramatic and heartbreaking memoir with a whole gallery of unforgettable characters. And the voice of the child Allegra herself will haunt you long after you have finished the book.

Ireland, Mexico, Malibu, and London--all come to vivid life in her talented hands. This is a book of rare intelligence and sensitivity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By missmickeesunshine on January 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Astonishingly and beautifully written "Love Child" is Allegra Huston's quest to understand her place in the complicated Huston family dynasty. Through fragments of her own reflection, stories and recall of others, the study of correspondence and diaries, her book is also a loving memorial tribute to her mother: Enrica "Ricki" Soma Huston (1930-1969). Ricki was a beautiful ballerina photographed for the cover of "Life Magazine" in 1947. Raised to be the wife or muse of a famous man, her father referred to her home at St. Cleran's Ireland as "John's fantasy castle". Sending his daughter a barrage of thick letters, he advised/admonished her on all matters concerning her life, conduct, manners, and appearance. Ricki was killed tragically in a terrible car crash in France, when Allegra was four years old.

Attended by her Nurse, and raised in various locations: England, Ireland, Italy, she eventually moved to Southern California; where she lived with her Dad famous film director John Huston (1906-1987), and his fifth wife Celeste "CiCi" Shane. It was Shane, a loving stepmother who finally explained: "You were a child of love." Allegra was shocked to discover her biological father was Viscount John Julius Norwich of England, U.K. Often feeling as an outsider, barely fitting in, she struggled to come to terms with her complex blended family origin and dynamic.

For a time Allegra stayed with her famous sister Anjelica Huston, where she lived with actor Ryan O'Neal, later going back with Jack Nicholson. Jack called Allegra "Leggsie/Leggsington" and her nickname "Legg's" would stick. Jack was delightful, played like an adult who knew how to have fun, his house was often like a circus with friends coming and going.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Tana on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Such an insight into a life, that would by all appearances be one of indulgence and frivolity. On the contrary we discover the glaring absence of parental presence and love, and the amazing skills it takes to navigate the waters of such a childhood. The wry observations of a self contained child are at times hilarious as are the unexpected challenges that come from of the privileges she is presumed to have enjoyed, but has not.
This is a poignant tale of, all that glitters is not gold, and the delicious discovery of, that which has meaning is what you discover for yourself.
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