From Publishers Weekly
In this evenhanded biography of her famous father, Deana Martin acknowledges that Dean "wasn't a good father, but he was a good man." The youngest child of four from Dean Martin's marriage to his first wife, Betty MacDonald, the author recalls how her mother began drinking so heavily that Dean's new wife, Jeanne Biegger, eventually took Betty's three girls in (Betty's son was living with his grandparents) and brought them up along with the three children she had with Dean. Martin details her father's life from his teenage years as a card dealer to his first Atlantic City gig with Jerry Lewis, offering her own observations along the way ("A glass of apple juice masquerading as scotch in his hand, he perfected a role that was going to become... indistinguishable from the real Dean Martin"). Perhaps Martin forgives her emotionally detached father too quickly, as when he doesn't show up at her first live theater performance ("I guess Dad felt that with so many children, if he did it for one, he would have spent his whole life doing it for the others"). But in the end, hers is a heartfelt and honest portrait of a mysterious father.
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With Holden's help, the daughter of one of the most successful mid-twentieth-century entertainers makes quite a treat of her account of growing up chaotically amid A-list celebs. Of her father, his feminine namesake (her name rhymes with the queen of the jungle's) says that he wasn't a good father, but he was a good man. He left her and her siblings with his mentally deteriorating first wife, and after she abandoned them and they went to live with him and his kindly new wife, his workaholic ways made him absent a lot. Still, when he was around, he was affectionate and even indulgent, hence, a good man, and the book breezes along on a stream of happy anecdotes about him and his eventually large family (Deana got a passel of half-siblings) and their relations with the family of his famous confrere, Frank Sinatra, and scarcely lesser luminaries. Martin left wife two, too, setting a pattern his children have followed with their spouses while remaining lovingly loyal to one another. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved