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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate Portrait of a Fascinating Woman
*****

Jane Fonda's "My Life So Far" is an atypical celebrity memoir. It is intelligently and beautifully and gently written, extremely introspective, and not primarily about the author's celebrity associations (although she does address them), but instead about the maturing of a woman who lived during a fascinating time in American history. After reading this...
Published on April 17, 2006 by O. Brown

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My llife so far
I found this book contained too much about her political life to keep me interested. I much preferred reading the parts about her acting career and personal life. For those people interested in American politics they would find it interesting I would expect.
Published on August 12, 2012 by suesan


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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate Portrait of a Fascinating Woman, April 17, 2006
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This review is from: My Life So Far (Paperback)
*****

Jane Fonda's "My Life So Far" is an atypical celebrity memoir. It is intelligently and beautifully and gently written, extremely introspective, and not primarily about the author's celebrity associations (although she does address them), but instead about the maturing of a woman who lived during a fascinating time in American history. After reading this book, I have great respect and admiration for Jane Fonda, an imperfect woman from whom I have learned a great deal through this autobiography.

"My Life So Far" covers the author's involvement in the Vietnam War in great details---her perspective may surprise some readers who have relied solely upon the media for their information. The author admits her mistakes with the wisdom of hindsight. She details her political activities and the reasons behind them. For those who hate Jane Fonda, of whom there are many, I recommend this book as a solution if they want to move beyond their hatred to understanding, whether or not they agree or disagree with her choices. The memoir has a tone of brutal honesty; I was touched and I do believe that the author is a very different person from her public persona. It is also excruciatingly intimate---it is a rare glimpse of a woman's life---raw and open. If you go in for that sort of thing (as I do), this memoir will appeal greatly to you. An additional theme of this book is Jane's struggle to live her life "embodied"---in her body, owning her own voice and opinions---topics that will appeal to many women.

The author shares her experience being objectified as a woman in her first marriage for her looks and sexuality, and then in her second marriage, for her intellectual prowess and political activities. During her third marriage to Ted Turner, she at last discovered her voice, but the marriage did not survive it.

Because of Jane Fonda's experiences and the path she has traveled, she now devotes her life to helping girls learn what it took her a lifetime to discover---things in areas relating to adolescent pregnancy, sexuality and parenting, and teaching girls to "respect, honor, and be themselves". What a journey, what a read! It's a long book (624 pages) and very satisfying. Highly recommended for introspectives, especially women.

*****
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Woman Like You or Me, October 10, 2005
By 
This review is from: My Life So Far (Hardcover)
You can't bring your own prejudices and misconceptions to the table for this book. If you read with an open mind, you'll hear about a life not so different from any woman's. Who among us didn't make mistakes when we were young and eager to find a place for ourselves in the world? Now imagine if your every misstep made national news.

Many of us can identify with growing up with an emotionally stunted father and the damage that does to a young girl's psyche (not to mention having a mother who commits suicide and a variety of stepmothers, some wonderful, some not so), how she becomes too eager to find approval in the arms of a variety of men whose demands reshape her personality, even her appearance. As she herself admits, she becomes the reflection of each of her husbands, the sex kitten for Vadim, the political activist for Hayden, the glued at the hip companion for the neurotic Ted Turner. Where is the real Jane? Even she wants to know.

And all the husbands cheat on her, and she is as devastated and hurt as we commonfolk. I was surprised, imagining movie stars had so many options, they could quickly move on. It is a puzzling life, to be able to be naked on a movie stage and fake intimacy with another actor, and then be able to feel betrayal and pain when you find out your husband is cheating on you. When you step in and out of fantasy and reality like that all your life, how can you blame her for letting her political activism and visit to Hanoi get out of hand? It was another role, and she is well aware what it cost her, although she proves in one chapter that one-on-one, she is willing to face the Vietnam veterans who so hate her and by the time it's all said, everyone is hugging and crying together.

I sped-read through much of her political activism and charity work, not finding that too engrossing, but the whole Ted Turner relationship was amazing and answered so many of my questions. He is an amazing man (who was terribly, terribly abused as a child and marked by it) who gives a woman so much, but in exchange demands more than any woman can give back and remain sane. And he's incapable of fidelity. He goes on TV now and says it ended because she became a Christian, but he's kidding himself. It ended because she wanted space to spend with her children and grandchildren and he can't give whoever is his constant companion any space.

And living with Hayden in a little house full of other people, how awful is that? Man, she put up with a lot.

It is most definitely a book for women, so I am looking cross-eyed at any of the rabid negative reviews posted by men here. No way you actually read this book.
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316 of 408 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Fonda -- what a woman!!, April 6, 2005
By 
Fox in a Box (Buffalo, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life So Far (Hardcover)
Some folks, after more than 35 years, are still fuming about "Hanoi Jane" to the extent that a few can't resist writing a lousy review of a book they never read.

They give her dramatic protest more credit than it deserves because Jane Fonda continues to serve as a lightening rod for their hatred.

A little reality check is in order, here. Fonda neither initiated the anti-war movement, nor supervised it, nor stood alone in opposing it. Many millions of others, including hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans and their families, stood with her to help bring the Vietnam War to an end. Duh.

Fortunately, "My Life So Far" is the story of a woman who appears to be considerably more complex and forgiving than her critics.

This biography must certainly have been a difficult one to write. Those of us who have feared we are way over the hill, however, just have to look at Fonda's willingness to undertake a difficult journey toward self-discovery, to find a role model against which to measure our own mature lives.

Okay, Jane Fonda was a rich, well-educated kid whose father was a movie star. Snore. Since time immemorial we have looked to the larger-than-life for a glimpse at the universal qualities and lessons those lives embody. In this distillation from the general, they become emblematic -- little cautionary tales featuring wealth, royalty, beauty and great outfits on a world stage.

I suppose it gives us a little frission of comfort, too, to know that regardless of money, gorgeousness and yadda yadda, some of these people have been visited by the bad fairies more often than we have. Some live to tell the tale. Fonda is one of them.

Jane Fonda had a magical childhood for a few years, but her parents' mental illness ultimately took their toll. Her lovely and enigmatic mother committed suicide as Jane moved into puberty and her father, who suffered from lifelong depression, maintained an emotional distance that proved extremely painful and damaging for his children. Their lives, in fact, were marked by repeated and determined efforts to please the sometimes cold and bitter critic they loved (he essentially was a very good man, Fonda says) and internalized.

In Fonda's telling, her life has since been marked indelibly by an urge sacrifice herself for the approval of the men she loved, one of whom, Tom Hayden, as opposed to Jane herself, was one of the most outspoken theorists behind the early anti-war movement. She both grew and suffered from the consequences of these relationships, in any case, and was less less true to who she was and is than might be considered healthy.

She discusses all of this -- childhood; grief; marriage to three gifted and nearly overwhelming men -- Roger Vadim, Hayden and Ted Turner; sex and love; her children; betrayal; eating disorders; professional success; emotional disfunction, political activities; public and private humiliations; Hollywood galore, and much, much more in a search for the patterns in her life that brought joy and great pain to herself and those around her.

This is the story of a life. You may no like it. You may be hung up on "Jane Fonda Reds," an undeserved persona that nevertheless inspired millions (sorry, folks, I was one of them), ultimately damaged her career and left her woefully misunderstood and even hated by many of her countrymen and former fans.

While Fonda was being publicly skewered, I must point out, Hayden was elected to public office.

Some sensed then and since that Jane Fonda had much more to say than the public was willing to hear. Now she has spoken from her head and heart and I, for one, am grateful.

So thanks, Jane. You were always a cutie, an icon, smart as a whip, sometimes lost, sometimes wrong headed, often apparently dissolved into the lives of the men you loved. But you were also brave as a terrier, soft as down, and tough as nails. Now, finally, you are YOU. I enjoy your company.

Peace, sister. And, um, who does your makeup?
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming Home, July 11, 2005
This review is from: My Life So Far (Hardcover)
In a brutally honest fashion, legendary actress and activist Jane Fonda describes her life story. She starts with the complicated relationship with her sick and depressed mother to whom she dedicates the book, and moves on to the equally challenging relationship with strong, silent, stoical Henry Fonda.

Jane's quest for her father's approval dominates much of her life as does her desire to please her three husbands. She talks about her mother's suicide and her own struggle with bulimia as candidly as if she were telling the story to a best friend. At the end, we feel that we know Jane and we can see a bit of ourselves in her tale.

We haven't all experienced such terrible tragedy in childhood nor have most of us acquired the status and influence that Fonda has. However, at heart she is just another woman who suffered from low self-esteem and the need to define herself through men, which is what many women learn from the culture.

My Life So Far is a walk down memory lane. Although Jane is older than me, she details the history of America along with her own, and that prompts vivid recollections of events such as JFK's assassination and the racial integration of schools and hotels.

Listening to her descriptions of her acting career, her passionate involvement in the Vietnam War and the time that she spent counseling young women on body image and contraception was fascinating. (One of the funniest lines in the book was when Jane's first husband was talking about the war and Jane was thinking to herself, "Where is Vietnam?") Her reconciliation of Christianity with feminism was also interesting.

With this great book, Jane Fonda has finally come home. I wish her well in her third act!

Sigrid Macdonald. Author of D'Amour Road
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201 of 273 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind closed doors, a startling, worthwhile life, April 6, 2005
By 
J. R. SOUTH (Albany, New York USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: My Life So Far (Hardcover)
First of all, if you read the some of the extremely negative reviews of "My Life So Far" on Amazon.com, it will be very obvious that they were written by people who have NOT read the book. Instead, these "reviewers" are judging the author, and since they don't begin to approach the work itself in any remotely logical way, their critiques are valueless. Despite Fonda's years of heartfelt apologies and sincere attempts to offer some explanation for her admitedly stupid actions in Viet Nam, the "Hanoi-Jane" haters hold onto their unforgiveness like a prized possession. Sad...for them, and for the people in their lives, if they haven't already alienated everybody.

Now for the book: what a read!!! Whoever would have guessed that underneath the immensely talented, strong, sensitive, beautiful, entrepeneurial Jane Fonda existed a depressed and tortured soul. And what intestinal fortitude it took to reveal the details of "the other Jane's" real life: gut-wrenching, eye-opening, tragic and hopeful. Most surprisingly, we ultimately end up realizing that the gutsy, joyful, healthy Jane we thought we knew is as legitimate and real as the emotional wreck we never saw. I'm sure that money was not out of consideration as a motivating factor in writing this autobiography, but there is also an honest, palpable need to reach out to others that leaps off of every page.

The adage "never judge a book by its cover" has never applied more accurately than to Jane Fonda, in more ways than one. And anyone who feels locked and alone in painful, private world that's at odds with the face they show the world will be enlightened by "My Life So Far". To greater or lesser degrees, that means all of us.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evolving Personas Define a Remarkable Woman, April 19, 2006
This review is from: My Life So Far (Paperback)
To say that Jane Fonda has led a full life seems like an understatement, and this 624-page book will vouch for that since what comes across is not as much the depth of the woman as much as it is the breadth of her life. I have been looking forward to this book for a long time, and at 67, Fonda remains a controversial icon and a person whose identity has evolved dramatically and not without her share of pain, sometimes self-inflicted. But this does not feel like a victim's tell-all, and frankly I'd have been surprised if it did as Fonda always strikes me as her father's daughter - impervious, principled, accomplished, preternaturally intelligent and gifted. As a result, the book feels more like a confessional about how she has reacted to the unexpected events in her life and how she has often been the impetus for many of the challenges she faced. Unlike her stoic father, she's not afraid to come across as self-absorbed, strident, sometimes overly cautious, and for all her intelligence, quite naive. The result is a believable portrait of a woman who has spent her entire life in the public eye, and for those reasons alone, her autobiography provides great value in revealing someone who takes accountability for both the successes and failures in her life.

Fonda confidently and convincingly divides her life into three acts, asserting that she is near the beginning of Act III. Act I starts with a classic Hollywood childhood gone awry by an emotionally isolated father and a mentally disturbed mother who committed suicide. Similar to her friend Brooke Hayward's 1977 memoir "Haywire", this portion of the book reveals a world of privilege disconnected from notions of self-worth. Dysfunction becomes a way of life and leads the young Fonda into an extended period of self-loathing (exemplified by her long-running eating disorders) and a fear of genuine intimacy. Growing into a beautiful woman and a rising actress in the Hollywood firmament, she appeared to be quite sexually active (in her words, "some pretty terrific fountains-of-Versailles-and fireworks sex!") but could not make herself emotionally available. This allowed her first husband, director Roger Vadim, to become her Svengali, ultimately leading her to the infamous soft-porn camp classic, "Barbarella".

As she and Vadim drifted into divorce, Fonda dove into politics with equal amounts passion and naivete. Often landing herself in hot water, she makes guarded apologies about her controversial trip to North Vietnam in 1972, but her political liberation kick-starts Act II, arguably her most fruitful period. She finally realized her potential as an actress winning two Oscars in the process and became involved with former Chicago Seven member, Tom Hayden. Despite his passion for economic democracy, he comes across as patronizing and sometimes quite cruel at a time when Fonda was coming into her own, as she became the queen of the workout video well before the concept became big business. The irony is that he resented her success even though the profits funded his political activities. Act II ends with her turbulent ten-year marriage to media mogul Ted Turner, a megalomaniac whom Fonda treats with respect and an occasional sense of regret. For all his out-of-control habits and predilections, he understood what she needed even though the world could not make sense as to why these two political opposites would marry. Act III shows her as active as ever, a born-again Christian reigniting her acting career after fifteen years and focusing on issues regarding adolescent reproductive health, sexuality and pregnancy. I am looking forward to what she'll do next.

This is not a perfect book. Her writing can fluctuate wildly in tone from being a mite too matter-of-fact to overwhelming in its use of self-conscious psychology and politically naive pontification. And I'm probably among the minority in wishing that she could have delved even deeper into her movies and the filmmaking process. These relatively minor flaws aside, one gets the sense of a complete, unfiltered person from this book. I remember very well her prancing around that cold attic apartment as an impetuous newlywed with Robert Redford in "Barefoot in the Park". And following her from that moment through all her different public personas has been quite a rollercoaster, but the journey certainly remains unparalleled among second-generation Hollywood progeny. Jane Fonda is indeed a remarkable woman unapologetic about the sometimes unwise decisions that have shaped her legacy. This is a fascinating memoir, and the paperback version also comes with a DVD with excerpts from her 2005 interview with James Lipton on "Inside the Actors' Studio".
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A SPLENDID, GENEROUS SURPRISE!, July 22, 2006
By 
This review is from: My Life So Far (Paperback)
I rarely give 5 stars. This one is a rare one. There is little I can add to what has already been said in the reader reviews, all of which is true. Jane Fonda's writing talent; her willingness to be transparent; and her sense and sensibilities as relate to the celebrity aspect of her story were all a huge and delightful surprise to me. Good on you, Ms. Fonda. And thank you so much for all the careful work you put into this to make it a great read for voracious readers who are passionate about good story-telling, like me. I enjoyed every minute I spent in your book; I learned a lot; and I was terribly disappointed when the book ended. God bless and keep you.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful journey with Jane ..., October 8, 2006
This review is from: My Life So Far (Paperback)
Every word resonates with Ms. Fonda's strong but gentle voice and it is all there; her pain, challenges, relationships, courage, and wisdom. What an amazing life of accomplishment, given a childhood of such remarkable pain and emotional islolation

I was born 17 years after Ms. Fonda but within the same "baby boomer" generation. I have always admired her female strength and ability to stand up for her beliefs, even in the face of much adversity. Her resolve has been a pillar of strength for so many women of our generation to leaned on.

Now we are invited into the inner sactum of her life through this very touching story, and what a story it is. Ms. Fonda reveals her scars and personal triumphs in an astoundingly open and honest manner. I was impressed with her extreme intelligence and abounding energy and admire her dedication to the many philanthropic causes she tirelessless supports with personal blood, sweat and tears.

This is not the usual "all about me" type of memoir. There is a full history lesson here, as well; citing Freedom of Information documents that support the turmoil of the 60's, the Viet Nam years and shameful governmental manueverings throughout it all.

As Ms. Fonda begins her so-called "third phase" she seems to have found that special something we all strive for - belief in self and the serenity and contentment it can bring to one's life. There is a special spirituality and kinship derived from reading this book; a feeling that Jane has personally reached out and given the reader a warm and gentle hug that seems to say "seek your own truth and embrace it".

I loved this book. Bravo Jane!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My llife so far, August 12, 2012
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This review is from: My Life So Far (Kindle Edition)
I found this book contained too much about her political life to keep me interested. I much preferred reading the parts about her acting career and personal life. For those people interested in American politics they would find it interesting I would expect.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, February 22, 2006
By 
tree hugger "quilter" (Portage, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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The best parts of this book have to do with inner beauty vs. surface looks. Great reading for women who suffer from the disease to please.
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My Life So Far
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda (Paperback - April 4, 2006)
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