An American icon, Elizabeth Taylor has been a part of our lives for more than six decades. A child star and part of the old Hollywood studio system, she learned her lessons at her mother Sara’s knee. Without her guidance—and some might say diligent control—she might not have become the legendary star that she is.
In Elizabeth, by J. Randy Taraborrelli, we get to peek behind the scenes into those magical moments that have comprised her life. But we also see the scandals, the pain, and the repeated attempts to find a lasting love—and without those glimpses, of course, the picture would be incomplete.
The story carries us through the decades, and is told in a conversational tone; as a result, we feel as though we’ve lived alongside her. We revel in her successes and feel despair at her pain. And triumph in her ability, after all these years and despite all of her health issues, that she has risen to her most inspirational incarnation yet—AIDS activist and business tycoon.
In some ways, the story feels incomplete; probably because, while it seems to sweep across the decades and fill in any blanks in our knowledge, it does seem to lack the strength of the subject’s own voice. Yes, there are the quotations and the references to her feelings and opinions, but they feel “borrowed” from other sources. The author does acknowledge the sources and references, and I did enjoy the updated information on what she, her living exes, and her grown children are currently doing…these were important to add closure to the tale.
It does seem to be a step-up from many tabloid pieces, and presents both positive and negative aspects, lending a twist of reality to what would otherwise be just another Hollywood celebrity piece. We do get a glimpse into some of the subject’s interior life and the growth she has managed to achieve. And the author delves into some of the psychological and emotional roots of the star’s pattern of serial marriages.
For those aspects of this story, I am gratified, and will thus award four stars. This is a book that fans will enjoy.