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Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one to recommend the most., 13 July 2007
This review is from: Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed (Hardcover)
About 15 years ago I bought a book on Jean Harlow called Platinum Girl. It is a beautful book about the actress and the format was stunning... written with a great deal of respect and insight into the life of the fabled Hollywood Goddess. How I wished at the time that there was such a book on Marilyn Monroe, because to me, she deserved a book of this quality to tell her life story...
When I saw Michelle's book I was immediately struck by how it looked. It is a stunning book with over 70 photos, fine 4-colour sepia printing throughout... my thoughts reminded me of the Harlow book and I felt as if my wish all those years ago had come true!
Michelle tells the now familiar story of Marilyn's life with new "eye-witness" accounts from people who haven't spoken publicly before. Her childhood is written about in great detail and you have to hand it to Michelle for her efforts in contacting people who were friends of Marilyn at the time and knew her in the orphange etc
Michelle's story is very respectful to Marilyn's memory and this is obvious in her writing but she has tried to be as honest as she can be, she trys to set the record straight where other authors have perhaps used sensational stories & scandal when there hasn't been... she leaves it open for the reader to make up their own mind.
Sometimes this was a bit frustrating as I felt there could have been more detail to certain things that happened, especially on film sets and at other times. Although much has been written about MM over the years, you always hope that one day a book will appear with every little detail that you have read (and believed to have been accurate), I suspect that Michelle didn't want to go over "old territory" and wanted to keep her book fresh, for example she writes about the filming of 'Clash By Night' and although Marilyn was often forgetting her lines or late on set, she writes that Barbara Stanwyck was quite cold to her colleagues and refused to sign autographs for fans and that Paul Douglas had wanted Marilyn's name to be below the films titles... but she omits that Stanwyck challenged Douglas to keep Marilyn's name above the title and was therefore very supportive her young co-star at least...
Michelle seems to skirt round certain subjects, for instance, there's bit about Marilyn's relationship with Pat Newcomb where she hints that there may have been a more than "platonic" friendsip between the two, gossip which came from within Marilyn's inner circle. That's as far as she goes and I really wish she'd been more bold and elidable. It would make the book more thorough and more definitive as a biography on Marilyn Monroe...
At other times it's very emotonal, when she describes Marilyn leaving Arthur Miller's house for the last time after collecting her things and when she receives a visit from her father in hospital, but the latter is very sparse on information. I cried when reading about the funeral, and Joe's emotional state over her coffin, his love for Marilyn really shines through in Michelle's words.
On the whole though, the biography is a brilliant read and very entertaining. For todays readers it is probably the best researched book so far and comes closer to revealing the real Marilyn Monroe behind the myth. It was great to read again about DiMaggio, Marilyn's trip to England and the highs and lows in her life and the reminisces of people who knew her and hadn't spoken on record before. The first part of the book is meticulously researched but the second half of the book is a little patchy and I felt it didn't live up to my expectations.
However, I can appreciate it would be an enormous task to record every known detail in one book.
It's stunning to look at, beautifully presented and designed, with many pictures that most people won't have had access to before.
I still think Marilyn's life deserves a mamoth book project, like the Peter Guralnick 2-volume set on Elvis Presley...
But I Know that would be a big project for any writer to take on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (11 customer reviews)

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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland UK

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