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A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Actress Huston achieves some moments of ringing clarity in this memoir of her youth, especially as regards her famous director father, John Huston, whom she was both terrified and in awe of (people considered him a lion, a leader, the pirate they wished they had the audacity to be). The daughter of his fourth wife, the dancer Ricki Soma (who was much younger than him), Anjelica Huston and her older brother, Tony, were raised in a remote 110-acre estate in West Country, Ireland, called St. Clerans, where being homeschooled; being visited by famous, quirky people; riding horses amid wildly romantic scenery; and playing dress-up filled her youth. Her father was frequently absent on far-flung shoots, and her exotic mother was out of her element. With her parents' separation, Anjelica moved between Ireland and London, where her mother lived and where Anjelica went to school in the 1960s. She gradually embraced an acting career, appearing in her father's A Walk with Love and Death, though without confidence. After the death of her mother in 1969, Huston slipped into a more comfortable role of modeling and serving as the muse for the troubled, brilliant (and much older) fashion photographer Bob Richardson over four tortured years. Huston ends her brave account by describing her complex relationship with her father. (Nov.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With her high cheekbones and piercing dark eyes, Huston was fated for success as a fashion model. As the daughter and granddaughter of film and stage royalty, she was also assured a career as an actress. How she fulfilled those dual destinies is the subject of the first in a planned two-volume memoir in which Huston delves into her past in stunning detail. Growing up on a sprawling Irish estate, Huston was in thrall to her famous director father John Huston’s larger-than-life escapades and demands. As a teenager coming of age in London in the late 1960s, Huston fell under the spell of her passionately artistic prima-ballerina mother, Enrica Soma, who died just as Huston was coming into her own. Following that tragedy, the peripatetic Huston moved to New York where she captured the eye and captivated the attention of the day’s leading fashion photographers, including the famously mercurial Bob Richardson. As a multitalented contributor to her family’s theatrical legacy, Huston candidly reveals the heady and heartbreaking realities of life in that misconceived stratosphere. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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To me, it is hard to write about that time period b/c it is so remote from the present one--as an example, I was nonplused at all the attention paid to the fox hunts, the people who attended them, what they wore, and so on. And yet there was no mention of the fact that having a pack of dogs chase a fox to exhaustion and then rip it to pieces is no longer considered a good thing--and the 'sport' is now banned as a cruel blood sport today. It is this kind of reflection on what was done in her youth that is missing from the autobiography--the fact that the Anjelica of today seems pretty absent from the pages describing her past.
I suppose that was a deliberate choice and yet it makes for a rather uncomplicated life story that focuses on external details rather than internal responses. The exception is at the end when she finally leaves her 4 year relationship with a very abusive man. Her description of her encounter on the beach with a total stranger and how it empowered this decision is fantastic and moving. I wish there had been more of her inner life in this book.
'One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a wedding
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a story lately told'
It seems her life contains all seven. She was born in Los Angeles, and her father,the actor/director John Huston was across the world in Africa making a film 'The African Queen'. Her mother, Enrica Soma, 23 years younger than her husband, gave up her life as a ballerina for the love of John. However, Enrica was John's fourth wife, and he was known as a womanizer. The love of women, drink, adventure and his profession kept him separated from his family most of their lives.
Anjelica tells us of her home, St. Cleans in Ireland, where her father lived in the big house when he was home, and the family lived in the little house, all the time. She and her brother, Tony, had many wonderful times, most of them lonely. They lived in the country, had a nanny or a tutor, and depended upon visits from friends of the family. They did have glorious times with their father when he returned, but he was a stickler for good behavior and manners. He believed in taking chances and competition. Many stories of horse racing and chances taken. Much was expected of Tony and Anjelica, and to live up to their father's needs and wants took a great deal of strength. At some point, Enrica and John separated, but no one told the children. Anjelica and Tony moved to London with Enrica. They entered private school where Anjelica was very unhappy. Soon, Enrica was pregnant with another man's child. He did not want the child, and when Allegra was born she became part of the Huston family. At another time, Anjelica and Tony were introduced to a new brother. John, their father had a son with a woman named Zoe. Danny Huston became a very dear brother to Anjelica, but they did not live together.
The family was disjointed and issues were never discussed, it was thought the children would just accept things as they were. Anjelica's story becomes more alive after the move to London. There were parties, make-up, music, the Beatles, the clothes, and the 60's were part of Anjelica's life. Her teen years are rather muddled and glossed over. She appeared in one of her father's films and received horrible reviews. A tragedy comes upon the family which changed Anjelica's life. She moves to New York, enters life in the fast lane and makes unfortunate love choices.
This book started out with a bang, but became plodding. A young life told by a child. Descriptions of homes, clothes and food are interesting but not telling. The teen years and Abbey Road pick up the story, but there is something missing. To live in a home with a father who comes and goes, with many mistresses, a mother who did the same, must have rendered some form of need, other than picking older lovers, we are left wondering.
This is the first part of Angelica's life, let's hope she becomes more introspective in the second half of her life. The writing is at times exquisite and full of life, but like the cool grey that covers the Irish countryside, it fails at times and becomes without much life. All in all, a fascinating look at half a life.
Recommended. prisrob 11-21-13