She was the tempestuous, strong-willed woman who ignited the movie screen with her legendary performances in Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, and All About Eve. Off-camera, Bette Davis survived four disastrous marriages and earned a larger-than-life professional reputation as an actress to be reckoned with. In this extraordinary biography, fans and film historians will discover a different, darker side of Bette Davis: a woman beset with scarring personal and professional doubts, who fought a lifelong battle with alcohol and had an insatiable need to be loved, often at great emotional cost. Obsessive and compulsive, Davis was happy only when she was working, but did not always choose her projects wisely. A legend, a star, a remarkable woman, Bette Davis lived her life as if it were a coveted role she was desperately afraid she might not win.
“Leaming offers a portrait of Bette Davis that is both sympathetic to the actress and frank about her legendary bitchiness…The book is distinguished by its psychological understanding of the subject." (Publishers Weekly)
“Strong, honest, vivid biography…A rapid but rich full-dress portrait of a matchlessly magnetic actress whose chains of self-centeredness grew ever heavier as she aged… Excellent especially on Davis’ tics and mannerisms and how they undermined her ferocious energy and greater possibilities.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Love the subject, not so much the book
Jeez, talk about character assassination. The author draws outrageously unfair and unsubstantiated conclusions throughout this book. For example, when Bette finds out her adopted child, Margot, is mentally challenged, Barbara Leaming writes, "Bette's decision not to revoke the adoption was less about empathy and care for the child, and more about her fear of bad publicity." Oh really? Says who? Leaming offers not a shred of evidence for this theory. It's one of many nasty suppositions about Davis that actually contradicts just about 75% of everything I've ever read about her. It makes me wonder if the author is just looking for new revelations about the well documented life of Bette Davis. Occasionally she'll sight a letter or memo from Warner Bros. but for the most part she just fills the book with sensationally negative assumptions. Oh and PS, aside from hilariously mispronouncing everything, including "Bette" twice, the narrator is about as exciting as cold meatloaf on a paper plate.
A Side Unknown
A Lost Soul
That the book didn't just give history of Bette Davis but how she became Bette Davis the person. By providing history on her mother, sister, etc.
I didn't have one specific part that was my favorite section. I think what I walked away with is that Bette Davis wasn't appreciate as much for being a pioneer, her independence, and standing up for herself.
It made me want to cry for Bette Davis. I think she was a very misunderstood person - people thought she was a villain or a mean spirited person. She suffered with mental illness in a time where you did not address the problem. At an early age she was encouraged to cover it up with alcohol. She wasn't given the best guidance from her mother or father so she carried on less suitable behaviors in other relationships. She alienated those who loved her, probably as a form of protection, and was somewhat alone at the end of her life. She was a talented woman ahead of her time. What she is remembered for are the negative aspects of her life. I suspected she loved those closest to her deeply and did not know the proper way to show it.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan or looking for a good non-fiction book.
- Amazon Customer