I've been digging back through my TBR pile this past year, making an attempt to read through the backlog more regularly. I've accumulated quite a large pile as of late, due to inheriting a good number of books from my grandmother and of course picking up more books here and there that I'd like to read at some point. My latest read was Lauren Bacall's autobiography, By Myself, which came from my grandmother. It's worn, old, and the pages are yellowed, and you can tell it has been read multiple times...….. and I love it.
It always brings me great joy to read books that my grandmother owned, handled, and loved. It makes me feel closer to her. My grandmother had a love for Old Hollywood movies and enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies about the various stars of the era, a trait she passed down to me. I've enjoyed Bacall's movies, particularly the ones that teamed her up with Humphrey Bogart. Therefore, I was interested to read her autobiography.
Bacall seems to focus more on her personal life, her thoughts and feelings, her journey to becoming to woman she became, rather than a detailed report of her movie career, which is usually the standard for actors. The only movies where she goes into great detail are To Have and Have Not, which was her first role, the one that made her a star, and the one that started her relationship, both on and off screen, with Humphrey Bogart; and The African Queen, which she didn't star in but accompanied Bogart during the filming in Africa, London, and Paris. Her over films were glossed over with just a few words and details.
Bacall doesn't hold back throughout the telling of her life. She bares her vulnerabilities, her mistakes, and flaws for all to see, and she does it with no regrets and loads of dignity. She's frank and honest. The most interesting part of this book, for me, was when Bacall detailed Bogart's cancer diagnosis, his last months/days, and ultimately, his death. I literally balled my eyes out while reading the detailed account. I could feel the emotion, the gut-wrenching loss, and the void he left. It was beautifully and honestly done. I applaud her frankness, I'm sure it must have been difficult to relive.
Overall, this autobiography is a sound, well written account of Bacall's life. It was fascinating, frank, real, and an interesting read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves biographies/autobiographies and/or Old Hollywood.
I give it a 7/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....