(28) Unraveling Anne

Title: Unraveling Anne by Laurel Saville
Publisher: amazon encore
245 pages
Genre: Memoir

Borrowed for free from Amazon on my kindle as a Prime Member

Synopsis: In 1950s Los Angeles, Anne Ford was the epitome of the California golden girl, a former beauty queen and model-turned-fashion designer whose success and charm were legendary. So how is it possible that such a woman could die in squalor, an alcoholic street person brutally murdered in a burnt-out West Hollywood building?

In searching for answers to the heartbreaking trajectory of her mother’s life, writer Laurel Saville plumbed the depths of Anne’s troubled past and her own eccentric childhood to untangle the truth of an exceptional, yet tragic, existence. What she discovered was a woman who was beautiful, well-educated, and talented—yet tormented by internal demons and no match for the hedonistic culture of Southern California in the 1960s and 70s.

With unflinching honesty and stirring compassion, Saville struggles to reconcile the two faces her mother presented the world: the glamour-girl-about-town the public saw and the unpredictable, bitter alcoholic her children knew. Most importantly, Saville explores how what we bring forward from previous generations can shape our own lives, and how compassion and love for a difficult parent can be a person’s bridge to a better life.

Review: I was sucked into this intriguing book right from the beginning but then I started to wonder if it was going to be one big pity party.  Laurels life was hard, and watching her mother unravel into a drunken homeless person couldn't have been easy.  It seems Laurel wore her screwed up mother around her neck like a weight and writing this book was to help her remove the weight and make peace with her past.

Laurel's mother was a neglectful alcoholic genius who never could finish what she started. After reading pieces of the book I wonder if her mother wasn't ADD and if she had been given the correct treatment whether she would have been able to focus better, accomplishing more and not relying on alcohol.  But as Laurel knows we can't change the past we can only move forward, but the past is still there and will haunt us unless we make peace with it.

It wasn't until about half way through that Laurel starts to investigate the rest of her family.  Trying to discover if her mothers stories were true or just drunken make believe told to explain why her mother was the way she was. In uncovering the past Laurel seems to find some peace and some pride in her family heritage, she also starts to understand her mother a bit more.  Through her mothers notebooks and talking to long lost family members she pieces together the story of a very different woman than the one she knew.

As the story unravels Laurel decides to stop running from the past and the pieces of her history that haunt her and start looking for the pieces that made her who she is, the pieces of the women in her life who she never wanted to see in herself but knows are there.

I actually wound up enjoying this book and while the beginning was a bit of a pity party the rest of it makes up for what was lacking.