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Ordinary Girl: The Journey Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 7, 2003

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About the Author

Donna Summer is an internationally known singer-songwriter whose music has earned five Grammy Awards, three consecutive number one platinum albums (she is the only artist, male or female, ever to have accomplished this), eleven gold albums, four number one singles, two platinum singles, and twelve gold singles. Considered the voice that ignited the disco generation, she has been an enormously popular and enduring performer and recording artist for more than a quarter of a century. Her website is

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author or coauthor of several biographies and books about popular culture, including Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, Barry White’s Love Unlimited, and Erin Brockovich’s Take It from Me. He divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From Chapter 6

Shortly before Christmas, Helmuth and I decided to try a trial separation, and I went to Anna’s to get away from Helmuth and our apartment. This offered me an opportunity to hear other voices, human voices that, thankfully, were louder than the tormenting voices in my own head. Gunther would drop by on occasion to visit Anna’s husband, his best friend. We were both at home in Anna’s house, giving us the connection that would lead us soon to common ground. I had a sense we were fellow travelers, searching for each other. What a desperate duo we were, perfect for each other. At least, for the time being.
Then it happened. One night, while I was there alone at Anna’s with Mimi, having just put her to sleep, Gunther showed up unexpectedly and we started discussing our marital problems. He recognized my high level of anxiety and coerced me to take a couple of sips of wine. I fell prey to Gunther’s illustrious seduction that night.

I knew in my heart and soul that I had crossed the uncrossable line. I recognized the demise of my own moral convictions, and it shook the very foundation of my emotional stability. What did God think of me now? I shuddered at the idea that my eternal options were narrowing. What would Helmuth think of me? I knew my life was transparent in God’s eyes, but how could I continue to deceive Helmuth? Could I trust my husband to forgive me when I couldn’t even forgive myself? Gunther, on the other hand, flourished because of my emotional turmoil and now wanted to possess me at any cost. He stepped up his pursuit of me to the point of what would be described today as stalking. This, oddly, enticed and excited me–I was drawn to his burning need as much as he was to me.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the town of Knokke, Belgium, on a singing engagement without Helmuth. Overcome by loneliness, I stupidly decided to pen a steamy love letter to Gunther. I disguised myself by signing the letter “Love, Paul.” After reading the letter, Gunther placed it in his desk drawer, where it was found later that day by his wife. Believing that she had discovered that his secret life was the real reason for Gunther’s abuse and the cause of their estrangement, she decided to take the letter with her to a local club and show it around. It just so happened that night to be the same club where Helmuth worked as the headwaiter.

Helmuth, drawn to all the commotion, caught a glimpse of the letter and did a double take. The handwriting appeared disturbingly familiar as he read the words:

Missing you deeply here in Knokke.
Love, Paul

Was this Donna’s handwriting? he wondered. The very thought made him feel as if he’d been stabbed in the heart. He asked quietly, “Dauf ich das im Licht sehen, bitte?” May I see it in the light, please?

Upon my return from Knokke, Helmuth confronted me. He told me he had seen “the letter.” I knew immediately that he knew the truth, and squirm as I might, there was no way out. I could see the pain in his eyes as he wrestled with the concept of my being unfaithful. How could someone he held so high stoop so low? I was completely unable to deal with the situation. He was broken, and so was I.

Not long after, feeling I could never repair the breach of trust, I made one of the most
difficult decisions of my life. I knew I had to leave Helmuth. Not because of Gunther, but because of the calling I had to pursue–because of my singing. Helmuth told me that if there was music there in my heart, he would let me go.

Gunther stood by me during the first difficult days of my separation from Helmuth, and whenever I started to weaken, he encouraged me to keep my focus on my calling. This setting was perfect for Gunther, and as the saying goes, when he was good he was very good. During this time Gunther became my major crutch. He lavished his most sensitive, kind, and humane qualities on me. Gunther took Mimi and me on wonderful rides in the country and made paintings of me, but more than anything, he stood by my side and nurtured me back to emotional health, through the inevitable depression that goes with self-induced failure. I was powerless to resist him, yet at the same time I was extremely afraid of being controlled by him.

Unfortunately, when Gunther was bad, he was horrible. As I became more secure, he became more insecure and would compensate by drinking heavily. Because of his alcohol-fueled temper, I tried my best to keep an emotional arm’s length from him, which made for a stormy on-again, off-again relationship. One night Gunther and I went out to a club with some friends. At one point I was walking across the dance floor and a man grabbed my hand and asked if he could dance with me. I politely declined and walked back to our table. The man from the dance floor followed me back to the table and sat down across from me, in Gunther’s empty seat. He asked, “Is that your drink?” “Yes,” I said. He picked up my drink and drank right out of it! He then reached for my hand again and tried to pull me onto the dance floor. I said no, this time abit louder. Just then Gunther appeared. Seeing the man harassing me, Gunther raced over to me and grabbed the guy. He punched him, sat him down, picked him up again, punched him, sat him down again, and then kicked his chair, which was on rollers, all the way to the door and down the flight of stairs that led to the street. I stared in total disbelief. Gunther was indeed a dangerous man.

I was terrified of his violent temper! I couldn’t believe what he had done. It’s true the fellow had been out of line, but Gunther’s reaction was completely way over the top. Somehow he avoided going to jail, and in retrospect, that only made him worse.
Sometimes he did things I couldn’t stand. He would sleep with other women just to try to make me jealous, but his childish behavior didn’t faze me in the least. He’d come back, confess everything, and say he was sorry. It didn’t matter to me. I was unaffected by his behavior. My attitude would make him so crazy he’d go off, drink, and get even crazier. There were times I tried to leave him, and that’s when I learned firsthand what it felt like to be on the receiving end of his uncontrollable violence. One night he literally kicked the bathroom door off its frame trying to get to me. Anothertime I came home and found him enraged over something completely trivial. All six foot four of him slapped the five foot eight of me around and then threw me across the room, straight into my glass cabinet. Pieces of glass pierced my skin and scalp. I had glass in my hair, my face, and all over my body.

When I finally could get up I called the police, who warned him to stay away from me. Despite their warnings, he just kept coming around. He tried to get us back together. He told everyone that “our trouble” was really all my fault. He claimed I had become too arrogant and full of myself, and that I had kicked him out for no reason. In other words, he wanted everyone to think that he was the victim!

Including me.

Even after he began to abuse me, my insecurities led me to believe that I had destroyed my marriage because of this man and that therefore somehow I had to stick it out. Besides that, I figured I must have done something to provoke him. Maybe I shouldn’t have said this, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. I started playing that head game because as dangerous as it was to be with him, I really didn’t want to face the alternative of “being alone.” Here we were, two lost souls, groping at each other in mutual darkness. What a mess; what an utterly hopeless mess.

I kept myself busy and picked up singing work wherever I could. One day, a friend of mine told me about a producer who was looking for new voices. Maybe he could use me. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was a job. I set up an appointment to meet the man.
That man turned out to be Giorgio Moroder.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (October 7, 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 1400060311
  • ASIN: B001G8W602
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By @129_BPM on August 17, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think Donna's intention here (as the title implies) was to point out, that despite her extraordinary rise to stardom, she's just an "Ordinary Girl" who happened to make it big. Never once does she come off as privileged or entitled, but instead she tells her story with great humility and gratitude for the gifts, talents, and opportunities she's been given.

As for all the criticism regarding her "breezing over" alleged remarks she made against homosexuals, what more can be said? How many times would you like her to reiterate something that happened two decades ago. Accept it or reject it, but for crying out loud get over it already! This book is supposed to be about the artist, her life and music. It wasn't intended to be a 255-page apology letter to the gay community.

That said, if you're looking for scandal or mud-slinging here, forget it. But if your interested in an engaging account of Donna Summer's life, then this book is for you. A great read!!!
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Format: Hardcover
As of this writing, Donna Summer has been gone for several months and it was refreshing to see that the tabloids and TV shows had little to say about Donna after her passing with the notorious gossip site TMZ producing only a memorial program on its website. Perhaps this was good news, for Donna spent the last years of her life away from the limelight and living an ordinary life in Nashville, Tennessee without much fanfare.

This autobiography, written in 2003, shows Ms. Summer sharing with the reader some of the highlights (and lowlights) of her life in the form of various stories that detailed her growing up in Boston and her career. The book was a very good read and it gives us an inside view of her thoughts and feelings which ranged from elation to exhaustion to ourright depression. Growing up in Boston, Summer experienced several traumatic experiences that led her to flee to New York and eventaully to Munich, West Germany where her musical talents got her into various musical productions, most notably the German production of Hair. After seven years overseas, Summer came back to the States with a bang reaching the top of the charts with the suggestive song Love to Love You Baby. From there she experienced stardom with various disco hits and continuing her success in modest form even after disco left the scene by 1980. Summer writes about some harrowing scenes in her life. Allegedly getting shot early in her life, witnessing a murder before leaving for New York and being beaten up by a close "friend" in Los Angeles early in her stardom are the lowlights that she revealed to us.

She tells us about her conversion to Christianity in 1979 after struggling with stress and depression and contemplating suicide.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Talk about a great literary work! Late, great Donna Summer soars with this publication.
From start to finish I was hooked. The reading was fast, exciting, visually stimulating and totally enjoyable. From it all, I came away admiring Donna Summer for a great life and one that was cohesive, balanced and versatile. In the end, Donna managed a solid family life of her own as well as chilhood.
Her children, all females are attractive, healthy, intelligent and fully promising. Her husband, a life long, positive relationship and handsome too was refreshingly nice to learn about. Unlike so many eccentric, rich-ish stars with odd habits, Donna was absent on any substance abuse "scenes" or other Hollywood trappings.
In this book, she floats around like a professional angel of good down to earth living patterns or consumption, moral and genuine quality of lifestyle overcoming her relative illnesses and weaknesses in reasonable normal time frames. All without sacrificing a rich, variant social life.

In the end the book moves fast, is easy reading and doesnt get boring. It is a great effort and everyone who "passes on or dies" such as her mom in this biography does it naturally just like a flower preparing for the winter.

Worth every drop!

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By tam on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First off, I want to give my belated condolences to the Sudano family. Donna's passing came as a shock. I, like many of her fans, did not know she was ill. RIP Ms. Donna Summer-Sudano.

I liked this biography because she really told her story: the triumphs, the pain, the insecurities, and the fears. Because of her candid openness, I felt like I got to know the real Donna Summer up close and personal.

As an African American woman, I can relate to some of the things she went through. I am so happy she turned her life over to God and got rid of her demons. I admire her determination, dedication, and discipline to go after her dreams. I'm so glad she took that courageous musical journey to Germany and back to the U.S. where she became a superstar.

I have nothing negative to say about this book. It was very inspirational. She most definately had a loving spirit. Family was first and foremost in her life.

Last Dance is my favorite Donna Summer song. She sung it so beautifully.
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