Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Book Review: A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen
Author: Candice Bergen
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: a little bit of swearing, but a cleaner read than I expected it would be
When I was a teenager, I remember sitting on the couch with my mom on Monday nights to watch Murphy Brown. Murphy was beautiful, smart, and tough, and I admired Candice Bergen, the actress who played her. A Fine Romance is the second of Bergen's memoirs (her first, Knock Wood, was written in the early 80s, when she was launching her career as a writer, photographer, and actress, after growing up the daughter of Hollywood royalty), and takes place where the first left off, when she falls in love with French director Louis Malle. The story spans marriage, motherhood, widowhood, falling in love again, and lots and lots about her career.
Around the same time I was watching Murphy Brown, I had a friend whose dad was a surgeon. I was always a little starstruck around him. I thought he was so different from the other dads I knew, and got tongue tied, like I imagine I might if he had been a famous movie star. Celebrity memoirs show me that actors are, when you strip them of the Armani and the famous friends, just like the rest of us. The book was at its strongest when she wrote about her pregnancy and early mothering years, the time of Malle's illness and subsequent death, and the risks she took when she gave herself over to falling in love again.
While I love the guilty pleasure of a celebrity memoir, this one suffered from some of what you would expect from the genre-- there was too much name dropping when it wasn't relevant, constant claims that she lives an ordinary, frugal life (ordinary and frugal seem to be quite relative here), and a freaking ton of praise for Chloe, her daugher. Reading the memoirs of parents of only children always makes me glad I have a bunch of kids so none of them gets all the praise or has to suffer all my neuroses. I gobbled A Fine Romance in less than two days, and enjoyed nearly every moment of it.