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Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biography of a friend, February 4, 2006
This review is from: Being Martha: The Inside Story of Martha Stewart and Her Amazing Life (Hardcover)
Lloyd Allen is honest with us from the very beginning when he tells us that (a) he's not a writer, and (b) he's a friend and neighbor to Martha Stewart. Right away we can understand his point of view, and he doesn't disappoint us. By taking his own observations and adding those told by Martha's mother, daughter, siblings, and former and current employees, Allen provides a casual, chronological look at Martha Stewart's life. It's not a lurid tell-all. So much the better.

Martha Kostyra Stewart emerges as one of those folks whose background and life course have directed and prepared her for exactly who she is today. As a child, her early family life was one including gardening, cooking, and creating. With her father's culture of perfectionism added to the mix, it's easy to see how the young girl acquired her skills and work ethic. She later brought these to the forefront as a young married woman when she and husband Andy Stewart settled into a farmhouse called Turkey Hill in Westport, Connecticut. That's where she began her home-based catering business, encouraging and empowering other women to work with her, turning traditional "women's work" into a successful business venture. The vignettes told of that time reflect grueling work and long hours, to be sure, but also include times of fun and laughter. Her personality affects the people she meets in such a way that they want to get close to her, they want to work with her. And eating in restaurants with her must be a hoot.

Told in first person by Allen, "Being Martha" covers those business beginnings and informally follows the steady rise of her career, including her 1987 divorce, 2004-05 stint in jail and even stronger emergence afterward. 16 pages of personal and unique photos, many in color, supplement the story. As for the writing style: yes, we can find a few clumsy sentences, misplaced modifiers, and unusual turns of phrase in the text. But generally speaking, "Being Martha" is an interesting read and is the nifty little tribute it was intended to be. It is made of good ingredients, and fans should eat it up.

Allen seems to have released this book just in the nick of time. In early 2006, Martha Stewart announced that she was selling the Turkey Hill property and leaving Westport. That means that she and Allen will no longer be neighbors. Based on what we read here, we may be assured that their friendship will continue.
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