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My Life So Far Hardcover – April 5, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 323 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most recognizable women of our time, America knows Jane Fonda as actress, activist, feminist, wife, and workout guru. In her extraordinary memoir, Fonda divides her life into three acts: her childhood, early films, and first marriage make up act one; her growing career in film, marriage to Ted Turner, and involvement in the Vietnam War belong to act two; and the third act belongs to the future, in which she hopes to "begin living consciously," and inspire others who can learn from her experiences. Fonda reveals intimate details and universal truths that she hopes "can provide a lens through which others can see their lives and how they can live them a little differently."

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From Publishers Weekly

At 67, Fonda looks back on a full life with insight and more than a tinge of regret. The actress-cum-activist-turned-aerobics instructor (and now philanthropist) has a lot to say and, for the most part, it's interesting-if readers can hang on through the too-frequent, lengthy passages of self-analysis. Fonda clings to the theme of defining herself through the men in her life, starting with her father, the detached and intimidating Henry Fonda, and moving through her three husbands: Barbarella director Roger Vadim (1965-1973), student activist-turned-politician Tom Hayden (1973-1990) and self-indulgent philanthropist Ted Turner (1991-2001). It doesn't matter whether Fonda's paying for her acting lessons at Lee Strasberg's studio by modeling for women's magazines; trying to internalize the role of a prostitute (for 1971's Klute); or engaging in a threesome at the request of Vadim-she continually feels inadequate. Perhaps it was her mother's suicide when Fonda was just a girl, or her parents' unhealthy marriage. Whatever the reason, Fonda has struggled with feelings of insufficiency and codependency-and eating disorders-for much of her adult life. She discusses her controversial trip to Hanoi in 1972 (writing those chapters in the present tense), rueful that she allowed herself to be photographed on an antiaircraft gun, yet insisting, "I was framed and turned into a lightning rod for people's anger." More weighty than the average celebrity memoir, Fonda's remembrances, while wordy, nicely sum up more than 50 years of American history, seen through the eyes of one well-traveled woman. Photos.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507106
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (323 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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