Customer Reviews: Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant
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on September 24, 2011
I am probably not the target demographic for this book, and in fact grabbed it only because I was rushed and it was the first thing I saw that looked halfway interesting. I'm a middle-aged guy and usually read "serious" fiction but I'm also a movie buff, and who doesn't like Cary Grant? For that matter, what guy doesn't want to BE Cary Grant? For that matter, there's not a guy my age who didnt have a thing for Dyan Cannon back in the day. Well, what a nice surprise that "Dear Cary" is a damn fine read. It got me from Seattle to Miami, and halfway back, and I was sorry when I reached the end, with nothing but crappy in-flight magazines to carry me through the rest of the trip. It reads like good fiction, really well-written, but it also struck me as really as completely sincere. Grant was a pretty complex dude, really brilliant, and Madame Cannon who's one smart chick herself really probes into his mind and his dark side. She really took some emotionally rough treatment but what sets this book apart from most of its ilk is that she never falls into self-pity or whines about being a victim. And even many of the darker parts are funny. This book is very charming, but underneath it all is a quite serious point about the nature of romantic relationships. Good goin, Dyan.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 21, 2011
The title of this book refers to a letter written by Dyan Cannon to Cary Grant. The letter appears at the end of the book,summing up Cannon's take on her turbulent relationship and marriage to well as her journey to self- realization.

This memoir is an easy read and gives a basic chronology of Grant's life with Cannon. For me, the most interesting sections described Grant's early and often painful life - as he related it to Dyan, along with her own recollections of meeting Grant's mother.

I'd hoped for detailed descriptions of conversations between Cannon and Grant. What did they discuss? But such details are lacking, a point Dyan herself acknowledges when she writes that she simply can't have perfect recall of their conversations.

Instead she attempts to remain faithful, as she puts it, to "the way we talked". Her honesty is appreciated. Just don't expect to find much depth in the sections focusing on the couple's conversations.

On the Kindle edition of this book,there is a disclaimer that the book is a "work of fiction." This sentence appears under the word "copyright" which is printed in blue. From other reader comments, it seems that the disclaimer may be in another part of the book - or perhaps not at all. I can only vouch for the Kindle edition.

There are some solid reasons to recommend this book to fans of Cary Grant and/or Dyan Cannon. Grant's fascination with LSD
as a path to spiritual growth is not glossed over. He pushes Dyan to take the drug and I'll leave it to potential readers to learn about her experiences with acid. No spoilers about that.

Cannon's analysis of Grant's flaws seemed very credible to me and can be supported by other biographies of the actor. Readers
do need to get through initial chapters in the book which describe Cannon's persistent refusal to go out with Grant. As a result,the first sections focus mostly on Dyan and there are entire chapters which focus on her experiences without bringing Grant into the mix.

When Grant pursues Dyan, she resists. Not surprisingly, her reluctance to date Grant only fuels his passion. When she finally agrees to go out with him their romance proceeds in fits and starts,perhaps making it more enticing for Grant, a man described as wary of marriage and intimacy.

There is a lovely photo section included in the book. All in all, a light but enjoyable read.
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on September 28, 2011
I simply could not put this book down while reading about Cary and Dyan's courtship. Imagine a 20-something aspiring starlet catching the eye of Cary Grant one of the most distinguished, sophisticated and drop dead handsome men to have ever graced the silver screen. He pursued her and she ran the other way. Riveting reading and the stuff of movies. Details of their travels, the famous people she met etc etc enhanced the story even further. I was amazed that after nearly 40 years she could recall so much detail. Then, they get married and the party's over. That's where I began to ask myself questions: how could this ardent lover suddenly and completely lose interest in Dyan! It just didn't completely add up and she didn't provide very satisfying explanations. Yes he'd come from a dysfunctional family and yes he took LSD regularly which was terrifying for Dyan who indulged a few times to keep him happy but I finished the book wishing I could have gotten his side of the story. And I understand it was a very nasty divorce though that is not in the memoir. I feel much has been left out and that's where the memoir fails to satisfy. Otherwise I liked it and enjoyed the photos and Cary's love notes written on stationery from some of the ritziest hotels in the world.
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on October 14, 2011
Cary Grant was the greatest movie star of all time!! He was the very best at what he did and nobody has ever come close to being as good.

If you are looking for a book about Cary Grant then this effort will be something of a disappointment. This book was written by Dyan Cannon, for Dyan Cannon and about Dyan Cannon. If you are looking for a partial autobiography of Dyan Cannon; then this book will be interesting and worthwhile. The title is partly a marketing subterfuge as books about Cary Grant sell better than books about Dyan Cannon. (There is a new letter Dyan just wrote to Cary, at the very end of this book, that ties in with the title as well).

The book mainly struck me as an effort by Dyan to dredge through her past as a catharsis of sorts. As such, it tends to be somewhat self-centered as one might certainly expect a catharsis to be. From the time she split with Cary Grant both Cary and Jennifer basically disappear from the story and it degenerates into yet another Hollywood rehab journey. Yada, Yada!! After their split there is nothing much about how the split effected Jennifer or Cary as it focuses on Dyan to the virtual exclusion of all else. There is no follow-up during the later years, after the divorce, when reportedly Dyan and Cary were much friendlier toward each other. The story abruptly stops so it does not cover his death or anything else beyond a few years after their divorce. Earlier in the book there are numerous flashbacks that take us to the pre-Cary days in Dyan's life and these do nothing much to enlighten or interest a Cary Grant fan as they naturally focus on Dyan exclusively.

If you want a book about Dyan Cannon this is really a fine book as it is unrestrained, unvarnished and very revealing about her life. If you are a Cary Grant fan then you may want to turn away as soon as possible as it does not paint him in a flattering light.

As a Cary Grant fan, the main thing I was able to take away from this book was that it confirmed some of what has been written by other people. This is especially true of the excellent book by Maureen Donaldson "An Affair to Remember" and the very fine book "Good Stuff" by Jennifer Grant. Allowing for their differing points of perspective; the picture of both Cary Grant and "Cary Grant" is somewhat similar according to all three women.

I guess we would all like to believe that "Cary Grant" really existed in the flesh. After reading nine biographies/memoirs about Cary Grant I have come to the conclusion that "Cary Grant" was basically just an illusion. The real person was vastly different and more complicated than his screen persona. In my judgment, after reading several books each about John Wayne, James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn and Gary Cooper; those people were all just about exactly what you would expect them to be, based on how they appeared in their movies....for the most part. Nobody is completely what they look to be on the silver screen but these people came fairly close.

Cary Grant was the ultimate illusion and the perfect creation of Archie Leach.
Apparently Cary Grant could put on the `Cary Grant" persona at will and become the charming, witty, dapper, sophisticated marvelous person we would have liked him to actually be. There was also a darker and less glamorous side to his personality that sounds unflattering and unbecoming. All of us have issues and I guess our heroes are no different. It is disenchanting to find that the icon who was the ultimate example of what a romantic leading man should be was mainly just a glorious invention. Cary himself seems to have known this. The books I have read contain numerous stories relating to Cary saying "I'll do the Cary Grant thing" before he got people to do things for him. When he did the "Cary Grant thing" he could charm the socks off anyone. One story that illustrates this is of the time a friend of his was late for a flight. Cary said don't worry because he would just do the "Cary Grant thing" and upon entering the airport he actually charmed the airline into holding the flight for his friend!! Another story told of a person who said to Cary "you do not look like Cary Grant". To which he replied "Well nobody does". I guess he knew that the persona was not reality and that the image he created was impossible for anyone to live up to in real life. Cary is even reported as having said "Everybody wants to be Cary Grant...Even I want to be Cary Grant".

Having said all of that; I still enjoy reading about Cary Grant! Dreams or illusions die hard and "Cary Grant" is a most beautiful and powerful illusion. This is why Maureen Donaldson's book was so very interesting. It painted both sides of Cary Grant effectively and evenly and was thus a delight to read. The mesmerizing stuff vastly outweighed the unflattering stuff.

Dyan's book was less about Cary than I had hoped. Overall it had less of the elegant stuff and seemed much more morose, unflattering and sad in the darker aspects of his life than other books I've read. (With the exception of the Higham trash). Dyan's book is just one dark episode after another from the very day they got married. This book was not a pick-me-up with many "happy thoughts".

The long and short of it is this; you can do much better by reading other books about Cary Grant. This book does not spend much time on Cary and where it does it will not enhance him in anyone's eyes. However, as a book about Dyan Cannon it succeeds and is pretty interesting even while managing to be an overall downer.
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on August 13, 2014
"Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant" (2011) Dyan Cannon reveals the stunning life altering details of her relationship/marriage and subsequent divorce; to Cary Grant (1904-1986) known as an incredibly handsome "debonair screen icon".

Although Grant was 33 years older then Cannon, her youth, beauty, personality, and worldly inexperience likely appealed to him. They were an absolutely stunning couple. They married (at Grants insistence) in a quickie Las Vegas wedding ceremony in 1965. The birth of their beautiful baby daughter Jennifer Diane followed on February 26, 1966. Grant retired from acting shortly after, and they resided at his California mansion.

The "fairytale" marriage was not as happy as it appeared to be publically. Behind closed doors Grant was moody, his remoteness led to unbearably long silences. Cannon could not please him no matter how hard she tried, he either controlled or criticized nearly everything about her and/or their life together. He picked untold fights, deliberately creating drama engineered to create the necessary distance he (seemed) to need. Cannon sought therapy, also advice from Grant's spiritual advisor, who simply said (after Cannon told her about the problems she and Grant were having): "That doesn't sound like love". Grant would also pressure Cannon use/try LSD, (he was an established user) for "improvement" to be a better "enlightened" wife. Not surprisingly, this didn't bridge the distance between them. Cannon refused to take LSD during her pregnancy, though he urged her to do so. Another later time, Grant picked a final fight, and was gone overnight. He soon sent his personal assistant/manager to ask her for a divorce, which Cannon never anticipated, her spirit seemed to be crushed, and worn down from all the conflict.

Although Cannon loved Grant immensely, she knew it would be impossible to meet his unrealistic standards, and they would never find a shred of genuine happiness together. Following their divorce in 1968, Cannon had a complete total mental breakdown and was hospitalized. Her account of this time was tremendously sad and heartbreaking.

Cannon's memoir of her marriage to Grant didn't portray a typical mutually satisfying relationship. Grant seemingly had his own agenda from the day he began courting Cannon; and it didn't involve being a truthful, loving, supportive boyfriend/husband. Cannon has publically denied Grant was gay. To her credit, she has come to terms with his marital neglect/abuse. Grant was after all, the love of her life, the man in and of her dreams, the father of her only child, and she has made peace with his memory. Wonderful photos were included.
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on September 21, 2011
I couldn't put this book down. It's funny, captivating and breezy and poignant all at the same time. I don't know if she had a ghost writer help her, but the writing is really good. It's really from the heart. I'm a big Cary Grant fan, and this is definitely the most intimate thing ever written about him. I felt like I really got to know him, and anyone can see how Dyan Cannon loved him so much, flaws and all. This is a really first rate, classy book. Now my husband's reading it and he can't put it down either.
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VINE VOICEon April 6, 2014
And even so, I was overcharged.

Grant's last wife undertakes to tell us all about her brief fling and briefer wedded bliss with the acting icon. Let's simplify. She was about 25 years younger and vapid; He was older, sophisticated and just not that interested. Not that he had other women, he was just was kind of lukewarm about the whole relationship. Maybe even women. Whatever, it's mostly an on off-again/off again courtship. Grant doesn't seem exactly hot for this ingenue. He is unemotional. They date, nothing much happens. He disappears, he reappears. They date some more, they break up, reunite, break up, reunite, and then they get married. The marriage is rocky. Go figure.

Ms. Cannon spares us not a moment of ennui, dragging us along through the entire lackluster romance. And when I say 'spares us nothing,' I'm not whistling Dixie. At the end of the story, we find her tormented, wondering where she went wrong, who failed whom, and could things have been different. So she asks God for the answer. And God responds by inspiring her to write a poem that explains it all. And she shares that poem with us. All of it.

No, God did not smite her. We have a benevolent diety. And a patient one. The reader, on the other hand, wouldn't have hesitated.

To sum up, there is nothing here.. Nothing to learn, no romance, no emotion, nothing to enjoy, no good gossip to savor. This book is so bad, it makes me regret my one good eye.
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on September 1, 2014
This is one of the most stupid books I've read. Although supposedly written by someone in her mid seventies, she never questions her decisions or motivations in her twenties or the motivations of Cary Grant. Her best friend/agent essentially pimps Cannon out and ignores the unhealthy situation. Why would Grant pursue her after seeing her on a second-rate TV show? This question never seems to cross Cannon's mind. Finally, the early chapters have the narrator voice of a teen and drag on with little noteworthy info; it takes 7 chapters before Cannon and Grant even start dating.
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on September 21, 2011
What a pleasure to read a celebrity's book that isn't a tell-all and ego booster! In a gripping page turner, Dyan Cannon gives us the unvarnished truth of her experience of disappointment and forgiveness, acting out and healing that all can relate to while learning from her emotional journey where to turn for our own healing. Though our experiences may not have been on such an exotic level - we can't all have been married to Cary Grant and flown to London to watch a tennis match - Miss Cannon lets us see that we are all human and face the same challenges in this schoolhouse of our souls that is this earthly life. A unique book that will help so many.
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on June 4, 2015
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." After reading Dyan Cannon's moving and beautifully written memoir, I'm thinking, "Not so much."

First, the writing. It's wonderful. I zipped through this book, having borrowed it from the library more because of Cary Grant than Ms. Cannon. I knew a lot about him, less about her. It reads like the very best of fiction: a great cast of characters, gripping "plot," touches of humor, a sense of honesty by the author. By the time I'd reached page 344--yes, I read all the way past the Acknowledgements--I was sobbing.

Why? Because her story really struck a chord with me. How often have we women fallen for a good-looking man who has worn down our original reticence by wooing us unrelentingly, until we feel as if we're in the middle of the greatest love story ever told? How many times have we ignored that sixth sense that tells us something is "off" and maybe this man is not all that he seems? Or believed we can become whatever he wants us to be because--and here's the rub--suddenly we're not quite as "perfect" for him as we were first led to think, and we so desperately want to be his everything?

The man in question in Ms. Cannon's life was the inimitable Cary Grant. While it's hard not to feel sympathy for him with respect to his incredibly hard upbringing (what a movie that story would make!), by the time he married her in 1965 (she was just 28), he was 61. Old enough to have come to terms with his life by then, surely?

Oh, how I squirmed at all the clues that, when we're in the middle of a relationship like this, we think aren't that important or we can overcome (in her case the voice in her head that told her at one point: "Just open the door and run for your life" -- but she didn't). As an older woman myself having gone through a number of dysfunctional relationships in my younger days, it was chilling reading how her "boyfriend" referred to her constantly as a "silly child" or would make some other "child" reference when taking to her; his condemnation when she had her hair highlighted; a "proposal" that consisted of him barking at her: "Damn it, Dyan, do you want to get married?" And what to make of having to blowtorch the wedding ring off her swollen finger? Or Grant just giving away her beloved dog, Bangs, without her knowledge? Or when he put her father in his place by pointing out that Dyan was now under Grant's "jurisdiction," like she was some sort of prisoner (which, in a way, she was)!

And don't get me started on his pressuring her to take LSD so she could "find herself," although you get the impression she was never really lost, just way too young for him. (About which, his formerly institutionalized mother, Elsie--who kept mixing Dyan up with Grant's previous wife, Betsy--was spot on: "You're too young for Cary." To look at the picture of the two of them on the front cover, she looks more like his daughter than his wife.)

I also loved (and could identify with) her description of her marriage as being stuck on an airport runway in crowded coach for three hours with no air-conditioning!

As many of us have heard from own friends over the years, "That doesn't sound like love." It certainly wasn't unconditional love. It's hard not to end this book without feeling considerably more sympathy for her than for him, although at no point does her prose lapse into a morose pity party.

For all those fans of Cary Grant who have criticized the book for being more about Dyan Cannon than him, I disagree. I think the balance she struck was perfect. After all, we don't buy books like this for the "what" (because why not just read the newspaper clippings of their doomed, short-lived marriage"?) we read them for the "why." I got a much richer sense of Dyan Cannon after reading Dear Cary.

So, yes, the rich and famous are just like you and I, in the sense that we too often sleep walk into relationships that are "bad" for us, only recognizing in retrospect that something wonderful was achieved as a consequence. In Ms. Cannon's case it was their beautiful daughter, Jennifer Grant, as well as what she alludes to in the very last sentence of her Acknowledgments: "Thank you to all the guys I've ever dated who've helped me sort out what I wanted from what I didn't want."

Amen to that!
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