- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Unraveling Anne Paperback – November 1, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
A Q&A with Laurel Saville
|Anne Ford in front of the Spartan Executive airplane her father designed, 1937|
|Anne Ford, modeling, circa 1950|
Laurel Saville: This may sound strange, but I found it most difficult to write about myself. It’s not that I’m particularly private or guarded; I just didn’t think I, as a character, was that important to the narrative. But Bob Shacochis told me, "Without a daughter story, there is no mother story," and that piece of wisdom kept forcing me to put myself in there. Then, in the process of writing, I stumbled on something that was also helpful to me. When I was writing about my younger self, I naturally used my childhood nickname, Lolly, instead of my full name, Laurel. This other name gave me just enough distance to see myself as a character in a story, not as a confessor, and thereby allowed me to write more freely.
Question: The story covers difficult ground, but does so very lyrically and without sentiment. How did you find your voice?
Laurel Saville: Let me begin by saying that, as a reader, I’m not a big fan of memoirs. In general, I’m not fond of the voyeurism and, rightly or wrongly, I too often am suspicious about the motives of the author. I find the culture of confession that’s so pervasive these days a bit distasteful. Having said that, I am a writer and I have this story and I couldn’t escape the pressure--and desire--to make something of it. But I was determined to try and craft, in this era of reality TV and talk show emotional divestiture, a different kind of voice and narrative arc for covering this challenging territory. I wanted a voice that, instead of being confessional, simply took readers on a straightforward journey that
|Anne Ford's maternal family, Vermont, circa 1932|
|Anne Ford near the end of her life|
Laurel Saville: Well, first of all, there were not many people left alive to ask questions of, so that makes things difficult. But primarily it’s figuring out where to begin and what leads to chase. There are a lot of dead ends and you also worry that you’ve left important stones unturned. But when I did find the right person or contact, they were universally generous. I remember talking to a harried administrator in Utica, NY, and when I asked about my grandfather’s high school transcript, her voice instantly softened, and within a week, I had his grades in my hands. The owners and restorers of the Spartan Executive airplane that my grandfather designed were so kind to me. I wrote a note to a gallery showing John Altoon’s work, and a week later, I had an email from his widow. And of course, the stories and information from my mother’s cousin Alice, who is the voice of the final chapter, were invaluable. The book could not exist without her.
Question: You’ve written four other books and many articles on design, as well as short stories and essays. How was writing this book different?
|Laurel Saville and Henry, mid 1960s|
Laurel Saville: Content wise, the design books and Unraveling Anne have one thing in common: they are at their essence profiles of creative people andprocesses, and in the case of Unraveling Anne, also a creative time and place. But from a straightforward craft perspective, the difference really comes down to whether the work is fiction or non-fiction. In fiction, you make up what you need. Add a little drama here, create a character to move the narrative forward there. In non-fiction, you collect all these loosely connected bits of information and then you have to find a way to string them together into a credible narrative arc. It’s like making a collage or mosaic: you’re trying to create a coherent whole from parts you’ve broken apart from their native home.
Question: Was your family supportive?
Laurel Saville: I was concerned about their reactions, but it turns out I didn’t have to be. Some members of my family have chosen not to read it, one quibbled with me on a few points of memory, but everyone has let me know they are very glad I wrote the book. This, and the amazing responses I’ve received from a wide variety of readers, are both deeply gratifying and humbling.
"A remarkable read." --Midwest Book Review
"[Unraveling Anne is] as unflinching an act of courage as you're likely to find in everyday life...Laurel Saville is capable of the gaze of steady, lucid prose that continually ascends to eloquence, wisdom, and, at the end of it all, compassion." --Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the Islands and The Immaculate Invasion
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99 (Save 75%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top Customer Reviews
The reader learns at the beginning of the book that Anne was found murdered in a burnt-out building in West Hollywood. She apparently lived as an alcoholic in this dilapidated hovel, taking in men for survival and maybe a little fun. It is a sad commentary that this extraordinary beautiful and talented woman succumbed to her demons and ended up in squalor.
Saville's journey to learn about her mother is understandable. I just was not that interested in the family or her mother. Saville, aka Lolly, made her point early on. She was the antithesis of her mother. She became a responsible person who could complete tasks and was not lured into bad scenes. Anne Ford's life, however, exploded through the very tenor of American life. She was an alcoholic for many years and could not and would not break the cycle. Her three children witnessed degrading situations and Annie was not generous with the basic needs her children deserved. She didn't feed them properly, get them to school or take any active interest in their well-being.
The chronology of Saville's memoir was sometimes difficult to follow. She would give the reader recollections when she was a pre-teen and later describe a 5 year-old's memories. Ann Ford's progressive alcoholism was consistent including the rages, forgetfulness and lewd behavior.Read more ›
Upon reading this, you'd have to ask yourself "What's the point?" Underneath it all, I think Laurel Saville wrote this to get back at her mother. As someone who suffered a very similar relationship w/ my own mother, I understand the resentment. But resentment does not work as the basis for a memoir. A great memoir is built on some sort of redemption or insight. Unfortunately, this book offers little of either.
I did hesitate in pursuing this because I much prefer a well researched biography to the personal memoir. Memoirists abound these days, and as such their product has become rather redundant. Who hasn't suffered a bad childhood, abusive parents, alcohol/recreational/prescription drug abuse, divorce, mental illness or whatever? According to the memoirs being published these days, not too many people! And after a while, all these stories sound the same.
Okay, this book starts out ahead of the pack w/ the author's mother being an intriguing figure. The back of the book informs that Anne Ford (the author's mother) was a California golden girl who became a model and designer whose "success and charm were legendary." Really? Absolutely nothing in this book confirms any of that legend. If anything, the Anne Ford presented herein comes across as the mom next door who just happens to be a transient who drank heavily, paid little attention to her children and had a lot of boyfriends.
This book, even at a 219 pages, for me was "one long, hard slog." Okay, we get that Anne Ford was a horrible mother, but this book is relentlessly bleak, and there is no payoff. The reader keeps hoping. Zero humor coupled with no particular insight. Just play by plays of horrible times and even more horrible times that continued year after year.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I couldn't sleep without reading at least a chapter every night! Would've read it thru but I work 12 hr a day ZzzzzzzPublished 10 days ago by Cecilia
I finally finished it, which was a struggle. While I have no reason to doubt the author's overall experience, She certainly had a damaged childhood. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gloria Bauer Ishida
This is an incredible book. It seems to be autobiogaphical, at least in part. The "layering" of the story is wonderful - like unraveling a story. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Data Grrl
Very interesting story, horrific in a lot of ways. It's wonderful that the author grew up to be as stable as she seems!Published 3 months ago by Leilani Hayes
Wonderful heartfelt story. I almost felt as if I was the little girl. Will be reading more from this author!Published 3 months ago by C. Howard
Gosh what a story . What a childhood. Parents are strange creatures indeed, Laurel Saville did a great job of standing outside of her life and describing it.Published 3 months ago by goldenevie316
Story was interesting but writing was a little too repetitive. It caught my interest because I grew up in the '50s in a family of artists
and had some similar experiences. Read more