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An Admirable Woman
on August 29, 2007
I'm a Beatles fan too, but am dismayed to see some Beatles and EC acolytes posting not just harsh and unwarranted, but arguably libelious, comments here. "Groupie"?? "Call Girl"??!!
It's sad to see people so rabid and in such denial about their heroes' imperfections that they're smearing a lovely woman because she had the temerity to leave those rock gods before they destroyed her. I fear this sends a message that if you're an abused woman, but your husband is a beloved celebrity (or a popular guy in your community), then keep your mouth shut and put up with it. This is the story of a woman's triumph over abuse and that should be celebrated!
Pattie Boyd gained fame in her own right as was one of the top fashion icons and models of the Swinging London '60s. She was and is a dignified, intelligent woman. She was NOT a "groupie" or a "call girl"; in fact, she initially rebuffed the two men she would later marry.
After being talked and sung about for four decades, Pattie has every right to tell her side of the story. She's said in recent interviews, she chose to NOT reveal graphic details of the abuse she suffered from Slowhand, who has already admitted he repeatedly raped Pattie during their marriage. (See the June 27, 1999, London Sunday Times, recounted here, by the BBC: [...]
Pattie chose to omit the ugliest details from her memoir, but still gives a very vivid description of the fear, panic, and disillusionment that reigned during her marriage to the alcoholic guitar god and her subsequent nervous breakdown.
There are no truly salacious, graphic details in this book -- Pattie is much too classy for that. Much of the "dirt" in this book has been previously reported; the point of the book is to allow Pattie to offer her perspectives on those scandals. Boyd also makes clear she's let go of (most of) the bitterness and has come to accept that she made the mistake of playing enabler.
George, her true love, did indeed let her down and it's a sad story, filled with lingering regret. Her second husband professed to adore her, then turned into a menacing sociopath. It turns out we fans who envied Boyd during her marriages bought into a fantasy; we should have instead staged a mass intervention for her.
Pattie is to be admired for pulling herself out of a decades-long melodrama and creating a new life for herself in her mid-40s. She is now a respected portrait and travel photographer for Harper & Queens magazine, and is clearly living a full and enjoyable personal life. Wonderful Tonight should be mandatory reading for all abused women: there is a better life ahead for you, but only if you leave your abuser.
Shifting from the soap operas, I was surprised to find the most interesting parts of the book are about Pattie's childhood in Africa, her early adulthood (including the early years of her marriage to George), and her exotic adventure/spiritual travels around the world after her second divorce.
Unfortunately, this is not quite the book we Boyd admirers have long been waiting for and that is the fault of co-author, veteran journalist Penny Junor, whose writing is often rushed, disorganized, and cliched. I'm afraid Pattie once again deserved better than she got. (For instance, there is no mention, at least in the UK edition, of SHARP, an organization for co-dependents, which Pattie co-founded. Why was that left out? Why is this book so truncated? Shame on you, Random House/Headline Review!)
Still, Pattie is to be admired for her courage in standing up to the powerful men who tried, but ultimately failed, to dominate her, and for telling her story with grace -- but I feel she exercised too much discretion in this telling.
Pattie Boyd is not a groupie, or a call girl, or a sell-out. She is not only the greatest muse in music history, in this book she shows why so many of British rock's aristocracy have maintained their close friendships with her: she is a deeply spiritual, empathetic woman who, despite her tragedies, has maintained her sense of humor while learning to stand on her own two feet.
If you're an abused woman -- or an addict's enabler (also an abusive relationship) -- who is afraid to leave, or if you're struggling to rebuild your life after leaving your abuser or addicted partner, Pattie's story will not only give you hope, but guidance on your psychological recovery.
Well done, Ms. Boyd! (And please consider publishing a book of your marvelous travel photos and essays!)