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Danielle

What Danielle Did Next

A YA and NA book review blog

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Marilyn

Marilyn - Gloria Steinem, George Barris There’s a chapter in this book entitled “The Woman Who Will Not Die”, an apt description of the myth and reality that encompasses Marilyn Monroe. It’s been a while since I’ve read a biography and I was wary especially of this one as Monroe has been subjected to much criticism, rumour and speculation over the years but gladly my trust in Steinem paid off and she wrote a beautiful book. Steinem delves deep into the past of Norma Jean and paints a picture of a vulnerable child like woman who yearned for love and safety above all else. There’s a real focus on the psychological state of Norma Jean and Marilyn and it reads almost like the actress had a split personality as Marilyn the starlet constantly haunted by the lonely and unloved Norma Jean. The book follows an interesting format where unseen photographs by George Barris are the main focus with Steinem’s text accompanying it. There is no linear structure to the text allowing the reader to delve into a certain theme of Monroe’s life which made it enjoyable to read without being overwhelmed with facts.Despite the piercing focus on Marilyn’s relationships with men over the years Steinem includes the perspectives of both men and women and interestingly enough we discover that the overwhelming opinion of the actress is sympathetic. Despite her overt sexual nature which tends to raise the hackles of other women, it becomes clear that initial opinion is quickly brushed aside. Steinem herself includes her own personal connection with Monroe as she recalls attending the Actor’s Studio in New York at the same time as her and states how surprising she found it that the vulnerability seen on screen came through in real life as Marilyn struggled to find her place amongst people who constantly judged her and held preconceived ideas against her.It was heartbreaking to read about the neglect she suffered as a child which carried through into her adult years. Her difficulties in trying to conceive the child she always dreamed of and her spiralling descent into depression and addiction to those last fateful days is saddening. How the most famous woman in the world could be so alone at her death is frightening to comprehend.There is a beautiful collection of photographs featured in the book with many I had never seen before. It’s interesting to note the question posed by the author at the end of the book about who Marilyn would have become had she lived. It’s a question that will forever remain unanswered but this book does a fantastic job in painting a picture of one of the world’s most captivating Hollywood icons.Find more reviews at