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Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir Hardcover – Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company (Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061778702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061778704
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,935,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 May 2013
Format: Paperback
"Perhaps for me, Heaven is a well-lit, shining room with a long, beautiful table piled high with delicacies." Kaylie Jones is talking about her literary heroes, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Stendhal and her father, James Jones, sitting, eating, drinking and all they discuss is books. Kaylie approaches the table, her father stands and introduces her to the group and welcomes her to the table. This is a writer's dream and Kaylie Jones belongs here. Her memoir, 'Lies My Mother Never Told Me' has the ring of a winner. It is one of those books you can't put down, the writing and the story are so compelling that I want to ask, "Kaylie, how are you and your family and your sweet daughter, Eyrna?" She has opened her wounds so wide that the honesty that emanates from the deep inside must be a healing force.

Kaylie Jones,what a lucky little girl, daughter of the famous author, James Jones and his glorious and lovely wife, Gloria. They lead a life of the rich and famous. Of course, from the outside that is exactly what you see, but when you look more closely, you discover the warts and the drinking and the emotional abuse of many years, the life of a daughter of an alcoholic. Kaylie lived her formative years in the light of the father's eyes. There were constant parties and traveling and drinking, but her father kept most of it in check. Sure, her mother would forget to pick her up from school until it was dark, but excuses were made and her father filled in the missing pieces for Kaylie and her brother, Jamie. But, then her father died, and her life as she knew it fell apart. She went to college and started writing. She had one or two jobs but her mother kept the money coming so that she could buy the booze and the drugs that she needed to keep her life together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This memoir by Kaylie Jones is the story of growing up as the daughter of a famous writer - WW2 chronicler James Jones - and his wife, Gloria. Both were alcoholics. Both came from disfunctional families. Both were emotionally crippled from their upbringing - James Jones seemingly less so than Gloria. James Jones died relatively early in Kaylie and her brother Jamie's lives, leaving them to be raised by Gloria. (Probably would have worked out better for Kaylie if the reverse had happened - Gloria dying early.)

The Jones family lived in Paris for most of Kaylie's early years. They were part of a large group of writers who based themselves in France in the 50's and 60's. Parties every night - with plenty of alcohol - with the children basically being raised by their Portuguese nanny. You see, Gloria was not really into the motherhood thing. She did not relate well to children - Jim seemed to be the more active and interested parent.

In the 1970's, the Jones family moved back to the US - taking a place in Bridgehampton on Long Island. (Less fashionable than the "other" Hamptons and thus more affordable.) But, the place was also a writers' colony and the Jones had a lot of friends. And these friends, like those in France, loved to party. (I'm still a little surprised anybody was able to get any work done!). They loved to drink and Kaylie fell right into the drinking, keeping Gloria company after Jim died in 1977. From her college years at Weslyan College in Connecticut to her years after college in Manhattan, Kaylie did what she loved doing - drinking and writing. She eventually wrote several successful books, one was made into a movie by the team Merchant and Ivory.

Eventually, after an unfortunate early marriage, Kaylie straightened her life out and stopped drinking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 77 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Medicine for the Broken Soul, Doctor's Orders 14 Mar. 2010
By Qanta Ahmed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had the great good fortune to discover 'Lies My Mother Never Told Me' earlier on this month. I picked up the book after a busy day of meetings and began to read, unwinding from a hectic day. Soon I was engrossed, and despite the lateness of the hour, had to read deep into the night. The next day I returned to it, setting my work aside and a day later finished it in a final sitting. I shed unseen tears in the fluorescent ignominy of a nail salon as I reached the poignant ending of the book. Ms.Jones writes with a brutal honesty and integrity which can only be the hard won prize of true introspection born of searing intensity and courage.

As a practicing physician, I have diagnosed, attended, treated and sadly even pronounced many, many alcoholics who often evoke in me a deep sense of pathos and loss. In my opinion, this book captures the other side of the conversation and is truly instructive toward healing the divide between alcoholism and hapless medical physicians who often cannot identify, empathize or begin to understand the invisible alcoholics who are all too often unacknowledged, overlooked in our offices. Instead we engage in a masquerade of treating a more socially acceptable illness, a skin infection or a dental abcess, all the while overlooking the alcoholic who is often desperate to be released through the rebirth a diagnosis could really provide.

The day after I finished the book I attended my usual afternoon office hours. The first patient who entered was a woman I had recently identified as newly relapsed into active alcoholism. She and I talked about our last meeting some weeks earlier, and, after a few minutes, I wrote down the title of this book and the name of the author, insisting my patient read this. She beamed with the sense that finally someone could relate to her. The patient was heartened: finally I was offering a medicine (of sorts) which felt inclusive, not punitive or labeling or somehow judgmental. She left to attend her AA meeting later that day and at the next visit I will ask her about her experience of the book.

At the end of office hours I met a new patient who had disclosed a life long phobia of driving. For some reason, I asked her where this fear came from, and she immediately described a terrifying childhood of being captive to her father's reckless drunken driving. She crouched down as she explained how she protected her younger brother who huddled with her on the floor behind the backseat of the wildly swerving car. I could see the terror in her eyes, forty years later. She too walked away with a 'prescription' for this book.

There is much greatness in Ms.Jones - in her humanity, her humility, her defiance and her perseverance. This she has protected deep within herself despite the burdens of a heavy mantle a scion of literary royalty must bear. Her book captures all of this. But perhaps what she is unaware of is that in writing her memoir to heal herself, she has unwittingly healed many, many others.

I recommend everyone with any relationship - personal, professional, academic, intellectual or otherwise - with alcoholism (no matter how remote the interface appears to be) run out and snatch a copy of this book. The words are nothing short of medicine for the broken soul.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Famous war-author's daughter enjoyed a life of privilege but suffered from her mother's belittling and familial alcohol abuse. 2 Jan. 2010
By Julee Rudolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kaylie Jones' (p 27) sums up her alcoholic, socialite mother's thoughts about her thusly, "I annoyed and bored my mother to distraction, and elicited from her the most soul-shattering cruelty--the kind only a mother can inflict." Like her father, Ms. Jones (born in 1960) became a writer. And it sounds like her father felt similarly about his own mother as she did about hers. In the preface to her father's collection of short stories The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories, "TICH" Ms. Jones claims that (p ii), "he hated--passionately hated--his mother Ada." The Jones family of four (the couple adopted a boy the same age as their biological daughter when he was four) lived in France until moving to the States in 1974. Lies My Mother Never Told Me contains plenty of Jones family members' interactions with famous literati as well as entertaining, often expletive-filled, anecdotes about her parents. In the second chapter she tells of her father's upbringing and discusses the contents of TICH (much of the same stuff can be found in the preface she wrote for the collection). Things changed for the family after James Jones' diagnosis with a serious heart condition. She shares details of her educational experiences, writing career, romance, dabble in drugs, and alcohol dependence and delves deep into the near-Mommy Dearest theme. Fortunately, her mother was always there with a helping handout ((p 81), "My mother always gave me money when I needed it. Always;" (p 123), "She rescued me with a $20,000 check;" and (p 153) "Through a friend of hers, we'd found a psychiatrist, and since I didn't have health insurance, my mother was helping me pay for the sessions." Unfortunately, she never seemed to win her battle with the bottle.

Although Kaylie Jones' mother's belittling behavior towards her daughter and granddaughter was heartbreaking, her focus on financials, especially in light of her mother's frequent funding, was irritating. She whines about her ex-beau after their break-up (p 137-138), "Clearly, it had been important to him to gather whatever material spoils he could on his way out...I'd been completely outplayed. I'd let him take anything he'd wanted out of the hundreds of expensive gifts," gets stressed at hearing she's been disinherited in favor of her granddaughter Eyrna (p 354), `"She cut me out of her will." My mouth was completely dry, and I was hyperventilating. "I can't breathe,"' and later (courtesy of Eyrna's dad), "All we ever wanted was to be able to provide for Eyrna a private school education and an Ivy League college, if that's what she wants. And she'll have that." This financial freakishness from a gal whose only political comments are anti-Republican (p 118), "...those monstrous Reagan years...," and (p 312), "...George W. Bush...a news clip had shown the U.S. president failing to stand for the old veterans until President Mitterand leaned over and quietly urged him to his feet," seems odd. Then again, I'm more of a "pull oneself up by the bootstraps" kind of gal (and paid my own way through undergrad and grad school). But I digress... Lies My Mother Never Told Me is a longer than average memoir about a girl trying to get back on the path after straying due to the affects of her father's early death and her mother's outrageous behaviors. Better: The Mercy Papers by Robin Romm, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories by James Jones.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Self-help Memoir 16 Sept. 2009
By A. Howe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
From the opening word of her memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, to the final punctuation, Kaylie Jones puts her life in full view for all the world to read knowing full well her self-esteem, dignity, and emotional health will cannon fodder and become casualties of war. A war fought on the home front that ambushes, out flanks, and attacks her head on. The enemy is alcoholism and Gloria Jones, Kaylie's mother, is the face of that adversary. Being the daughter of a WWII veteran, Kaylie soldiers on to resurrect her life from the ashes of the battlefield.
Although Gloria Jones may be seen as an evil character from a Disney movie, Kaylie portrays her realistically, yet tactfully does not post blame. Gloria, despite her horrible comments to Kaylie throughout her life is seen for her physical beauty, grace, sense of humor, and addiction that consumes the real Gloria and those around her. The brutal honesty in which Kaylie writes is an attribute to her as a writer, person, and healer. How does a child hearing numerous times, "If I had to pick between having your father of having you, I would pick your father" and not be cut to the core? This sets the pattern of verbal abuse Kaylie endures at the hands of her mother's addiction. It would be easy for Kaylie to blame her mother, but she doesn't. Kaylie does what all children of alcoholics or children whose parents are divorcing do. She blames herself and suppresses the hurt and anger in order to keep the peace. Having had years of experience, therapy, a supporting husband, and a tough, strong-willed, and insightful daughter, Kaylie is able to filter through the rubble and never place blame, but enlighten us to the true evil mustache-twisting antagonist, alcohol.
Kaylie, herself, turned to the bottle as a way to cope with life. Her entire life she was groomed that alcohol is not evil, but the people who could not handle it are. Alcoholics are degenerates who are homeless and whose lives are in shambles. After all, her father wrote several novels while drinking heavily. That was "proof" he wasn't an alcoholic. Her mother functioned normally, had a wonderful husband and social life, and she drank heavily. Wasn't that "proof" she wasn't an alcoholic? They were alcoholics and Kaylie became one herself, but realized that despite her family's definition of an alcoholic, she faced the sobering truth and admitted it.
Despite all the horrible things Kaylie experienced at the hands of alcohol, including the loss of her father as a teenager, she propels herself upward after hitting rock bottom. What Kaylie experienced was the control that "demon-alcohol" has on a person. As she starts her path to sobriety, Kaylie is met head-on and is refuted by her mother. Kaylie breaks away, not from her mother, but the stranglehold alcohol has on her life. Just as she described, alcoholics circle the wagons to defend their need to maintain their lifestyle. That lifestyle often flourishes because the alcoholic surrounds themselves with other alcoholics or enablers. Kaylie, with her resurrected self-esteem, need for normalcy, and sheer desire to be well, breaks free again. She does so not only for herself, but for the survival of her family.
Lies My Mother Never Told Me is a self-help book brilliantly disguised as a memoir. Whether you are an adult child of alcoholic parents (ACOA), or someone who grew up with other issues, Lies My Mother Never Told Me will contain something for anyone searching for a road map to find solace in their life. Kaylie proves no matter what demons you face, there are always options to free yourself and get your life back on track.
Kaylie has changed her life round and now assists others to better their lives as a teacher, writer, and friend. She is a dedicated teacher who goes to any lengths in helping her students achieve their goals. With the publishing of Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie is able to extend her assistance beyond the classroom, right into the reader's home. Lies My Mother Never Told Me is a reflection into the past, and outline of the present, and a guide into the future. What could be better than a hand-held therapy session for your personal demons than a friendly copy of Lies My Mother Never Told Me, or thousands of dollars and countless hours of therapy with a stranger? Thank you Kaylie for helping me understand alcoholism and making sense of what I experienced as a child of alcoholic parents. You have given me insight into not only the mind of an alcoholic, but also myself, and why I reacted and did the things I couldn't understand. Lies My Mother Never Told Me can do the same for you if you read with the same openness and honesty Kaylie writes with.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We've often heard that privilege is paired with pain, and that has certainly been true in the life of Kaylie Jones, daughter of acclaimed novelist James Jones (From Here To Eternity, The thin Red Line). She writes with searing honesty, apparently wihholding nothing. In fact, at times the reader may think she reveals too much simply because it would seem that revisiting some things would hurt too much. Yet, in the end, after lancing these painful memories, releasing the poisons she emerges stronger than she had ever dreamed.

Born in Paris she lived in a sumptuous apartment with her father, her beautiful mother, Gloria, and adopted brother, Jamie. The centerpiece in that apartment was an antique 18th century carved wooden pulpit used as a bar. To her father this was a great irony , his way of thumbing his nose at his Christian forebears, "...all of it--the hypocrisy, the sexual repression, and the beatings his mother had given him in the name of God."

Gloria did not physically abuse Kaylie, yet she ravaged her emotionally telling the child, "You're a mean, spoiled ugly girl. You bore me to death. I can't wait till you grow up." When Kaylie did grow, there was more vitriol, "You're a whore, you know that? Your father would be ashamed of you." The verbal abuse never ended for as long as Gloria lived.

Yet, among friends Gloria could be amusing, a well liked raconteur. She would hold court among guests which often included the world's literary lights such as James Baldwin, William Styron, Norman Mailer, Willie Morris, and more. Parties at the Jones apartment often lasted through the night, often ending only at dawn. There were few prohibitions in their household save one - no one saw or would admit that both James Jones and Gloria were alcoholics.

Jones died of congestive heart failure when Kaylie was 16. She would remember forever sitting by his hospital bed and seeing "her father's green eyes clouding over." She dedicated herself to his legacy, read the books he had read, determined to better know the man she so loved.

At the same time she wanted to escape her mother's contempt and become meaningful for herself, not as a famous person's daughter. That proved to be a tortuous path as early on she drank far too much, and in time was suffering blackouts. She was sleeping with the wrong people, and eventually married the wrong man. It was only after years of searching and self-recrimination that she was able to admit that she too was an alcoholic, and take her first steps on the road to recovery.

For the most part, Lies My Mother Never Told Me is not a happy memoir. In a day when many bury their family secrets this book is remarkable for its candor, the author is unsparing of others and most of all herself. Many struggle in life but few as mightily as Kaylie, thus we find ourselves rejoicing in her victory yet saddened by what she suffered to achieve it.

- Gail Cooke
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One of the best books I've read in years... 23 Nov. 2009
By Catherine Todd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the second time I have read this book in a month, from cover to cover... a first for me! I am left speechless at the lyrical writing which describes some of the most horrendous experiences of an Adult Child of Alcoholics, including the guilt and co-dependency and never-ending desire to be loved that every child of an alcoholic never gives up, no matter how much they are mistreated by the parent that abuses them. I have put off writing this review for as long as I could, as I am literally speechless. Some of the descriptions could have been plucked from my own childhood, and even when I was well-aware of my father's drinking (and my mother's rages) many of the rest of the family stayed, and stays, in a state of denial, including me. Seeing the devastation and dangers of a continued relationship with what sounded like a raging Borderline-Disordered actively alcoholic mother and maintaining that relationship "for the sake of the grandchild" also left me speechless... seeing that this is exactly what I did with my own child, ultimately to my own ever-lasting detriment.

The author gets her black belt in Tae-Kwon Do during the entire process of letting go of the need and desire for her mother's love and approval, which she has never had and never will have, and in very real terms shines as a guiding light for us all that never had what we so fervently believe we need... the love and approval of an alcoholic family system that is simply not wired to ever be able to give it. Alcohol truly does "poison the mind." Read this book if you want to find out.

Kaylie Jones, daughter of the award-winning author James Jones ("The Thin Red Line" and other stories) is to be commended on every level for writing her story. It must have been an excruciatingly painful one to write, but gives everyone in the same predicament (including me) the courage to go on. Thank you, Kylie, forever more. You have no idea the gift and the strength you have given us all. The world needs more stories like yours.
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