Books in Review
by Adrienne Petterson 2005

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By Myself and Then Some
by Lauren Bacall
ISBN 0-06-075535-0
Published March 2005 - Hardcover - 506 pages - $26.95

This is an updated version of Ms. Bacall's book that now includes the last 25 years.  Always fascinating, always gorgeous, and always the star, Lauren Bacall epitomizes the Hollywood screen goddess, without the "goddess" part.  Know that I mean?  Born of Romanian and Polish parents in New York, Betty Perske (before she and her mother took the second half of mom's name after her parents divorced and they became Natalie and Betty Bacall) grew up dreaming of becoming a dancer and an actress, with Bette Davis as inspiration.  An only child in a family with not much money but plenty of pride, she was brought up strictly but lovingly.  Forever daydreaming about being someone else, acting and dancing, it's no wonder she landed up commanding the screen, but it was also the stage performances by John Gielgud (Hamlet) and Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (Romeo and Juliet) on Broadway that captivated her.  She started off as a model but her dreams were focused on the theatre.  There are no chapters as such, and from the start, for hundreds of pages to come, the book seems to go on and on and on.  It's very annoying as it starts to feel as though you're plowing through zillions of words.  She lingers too definitively on details at the beginning of her career and makes you want to skip pages - but you'll get through it if you persevere, or are a die-hard fan.  She goes on to talk about her meeting with Howard Hawks and the uneventful meeting with Humphrey Bogart, which was worth waiting the first 100 pages for.  She writes her moving recollections of meeting Bogie, working with him on their first movie, their falling in love while he was married to his third wife, that he was 44 and she just 19, and her almost idyllic time married to Humphrey Bogart - all rather moving.  I now realize what all the hullabaloo was about!  Then the extremely sad account of events leading to Bogie's death.  There's much about her children, the people they had as friends, their movies, and of course, the utter devotion to each other.   Ever the legend and adored by millions, Betty Bacall has an interesting life to write about, despite the lack of chapters.
Conclusion - A little long-winded but a must for Bacall fans.

Review copy not supplied by publisher - library copy reviewed.


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