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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO FALL IN LOVE!!, May 18, 2009
This review is from: She Always Knew How: Mae West, A Personal Biography (Hardcover)
Somewhere up there Miss Mae West is smiling. And our thanks go out to Charlotte Chandler - celebrity interviewer/author of eight previous books - for giving us this thoroughly enjoyable new look at one of America's most original and enduring icons of the stage and screen.

Built around interviews taped during the last year of West's life, this new publication offers us the opportunity to "hear" her words exactly as she spoke them, and at a time in her life from which no other such interviews exist. The value of this gift for West fans cannot be overestimated. If you want to hear the "Sin-sational" Miss Mae West tell the final version of her life story, as she would want you to know it - from birth in Brooklyn in 1893, to the heights of Hollywood fame and beyond - HERE SHE IS! And it just does not get any better than this, short of having been able to spend time in the Ravenswood with her!

Except for her mother and sister, women were not usually Miss West's first choice for company - and certainly not younger women doing interviews. The idea for Chandler's meetings, however, had been irresistibly suggested to West by director George Cukor, with whom she still hoped to make a film. It took a leap of faith for West to put her words into another woman's hands, but her trust has now been repaid ten fold. In this narrative, which reflects nearly the full 87 years of her life, Mae West's unaltered "voice" and personality, placed once again in her favorite place - "the spotlight", come through "alive" and brilliantly clear.

Additionally, Chandler's own personal gift for humor makes this book especially fun to read. Her interactions with Miss West, and descriptions of their time together, are bound to have the reader smiling, at the very least!

Did Miss West experience suffering in her life? Was she ever sad, frightened, lonely, or in doubt? Yes, I think we can be sure of that, but she did not believe in dwelling on the "negative". That was just not like "Mae West". And so, instead of stories of despair in this book, there are stories about Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Beverly Sills, and many others - stories that West told about them, and stories they told about her. It's wonderful!

West, who neither smoked nor drank, LOVED men... and mirrors, limousines and diamonds, spiritualists and séances, "chop suey, sex, and my career", she said. She was kind, thoughtful, and often very generous to people, but above all else, she loved her "self" - her "creation" , which remained the unwavering focus of all her attention and lifetime of work. "I had to be prepared for the best that could happen.", she told Chandler. And she loved her fans, to whom she always - at least by mail - remained accessible, and for whom she personally signed each autograph requested. They were her "audience", and her love for them never diminished - yet she was also an intensely private person, carefully choosing her small circle of close friends. Mae West is a MYSTERY. That is the woman we learn about and meet here - unknowingly at the end of a very long life, but still positive and planning for more. How much of her story is her own "embroidery" is up to the reader to ponder. It is part of the puzzle, and part of her charm.

As you read this beautiful book, which I HIGHLY recommend, be prepared to fall in love with the eternal Miss West. Exposure to her makes that inevitable. "She Always Knew How - Mae West, a Personal Biography" is unlike any other window we have been given into the "world" of this legendary star. The subject was elusive, but the interviewer/author is "magic"! How fortunate for us.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 8, 2010 2:22:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2010 2:23:08 AM PDT
Damon Devine says:
Karen Colton Welles has an annoying, if not painfully obvious, connection with Chandler. When someone...ANYONE... calls Chandler's ghastly writing "magic" (as seen in Welles' nauseating review of Chandler's Crawford book) one senses immediately, that some kind of transparent agenda is on the horizon. Chandler can "pad" a book, via embellishing usually, and one cannot safely call that "writing."

Posted on Mar 17, 2011 6:25:07 PM PDT
Your PARANOIA, Sister, goes hand-in-hand with your TATTOED arms with the visage of Mae.... I'm afraid she would not be amused......
You perhaps are not a "fan", but clinically speaking a FANATIC, like those poor souls who ate and BREATHED Michael Jackson.The book is very imperfect, but the tenderness with which she speaks makes for a very profound statement on the woman behind the mask.
The reason why you are so ANGRY is that all you can LOVE is the SHALLOWNESS of 'LIL...... You are incapable of loving the human being behind the PATHETIC MASK....... but Chandler offers us that, and that is the essence of the beauty in the book------not whether Chandler researched anything-------not important-----or whether she is a good writer..... We can see that this is a TRANSCRIPTION-----no one INTELLIGENT enough should expect more.....
Now go sit and read HAMLET------and THEN you can digress all you want with the scholars, Madam!
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