Monday, May 23, 2011

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe by Sandi Gelles-Cole


"My so-called death scene is always described the same: My housekeeper, Eunice Murray, finds my wasted, naked body tangled in a sheet, wet from secretions better left unexplained. I am face down with one hand hanging over the telephone. This detail is discussed often; am I answering a call or making one and if I am calling, then whom?

"But it did not happen that way. I cheated death . . ."

My thoughts:
I reviewed this book as part of a Pump Up Your Book Blog tour.  It was an opportunity that I am glad I took.

A number of years ago I decided to watch as many of Marilyn Monroe's movies as I could find on video.  Over the course of the summer I watched quite a few of them and enjoyed them all.  I wondered about Monroe's life and death and even read a few biographies about her.  This book was intriguing, the premise is that Monroe did not die as reported, but went into hiding and treatment for substance abuse.  The portrait that is painted over the course of time from her "death" to her eighty-fifth birthday is of a woman coming to know her trye self through living.

The story is told through a journal, but not all of it is chronological. It is written with Marilyn looking back at her life, but she mentions things that have happened recently and how she wants to get it all written down before having a medical procedure done.  She goes through time periods and explains how she was doing, if she was staying sober and going to meetings or if she had fallen back into her old bad habits, if she was dating a man or a woman, and where she was.  For parts of time she is in Florida, California, Cuba, Italy and Spain.  Castro had her thrown into jail when she wouldn't give information about Kennedy, she worked as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, spent time working as a vet assistant, and spent a lot of time going to meetings where she everyone stayed anonymous.

Not everyone thought she was dead, Joe DiMaggio and his son not only knew she was alive but helped her.  At the beginning of her recovery she is still very selfish and not sure who she is or who she wants to be, where she wants to end up or what she wants to do.  Her transformation to a self-assured woman takes decades and she has a number of falls along the way and lets a number of people down along the way.  It makes me wonder, what would have happened to Marilyn Monroe if she hadn't been found dead that day?  Was an overdose just a matter of time due to her lifestyle?  Would she have fallen out of vogue when fashion changed?  How would aging have treated her?

The voice this book was written in rang true, it was very believable that this could be Monroe.  The details I know about her life ring true as well.  The author did a lot of research and really got into the character.  It had me wondering at points, what if this isn't a fictional account?  Her treatment of the time periods and emotions really rang true as well.  It was engrossing and thought provoking and made me want to read a biography again as well as watch some of her movies.  Will we ever lose our fascination with Marilyn?

Product Details

Pub. Date: April 2011
Publisher: Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises


  1. Thanks, Jill, for sharing your thoughts on the book -- it's great to know it hit home with a true Marilyn Monroe fan like you!

    If others are interested, they can find the paperback edition on Amazon at

    And they can read the e-Book right now by going to

    Thanks again for being a fabulous reader!


  2. This sounds really interesting-I've always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe.