Barbra: The Way She Is, however, starts in 1998 as she weds her soul mate James Brolin at their Malibu estate.
Circling backwards in time, we learn about her early ambitions to act, and how she found a way into that magical world that would hopefully give her what she had missed the most in life: acceptance and love. We learn of her critical mother and the hole in her life after her father’s death. Her cruel stepfather definitely informed her journey.
In some ways, Andersen’s biography seemed, however, to focus most on the negative elements in Barbra; almost as if he had an ax to grind. Was she really as atrocious, demanding, objectionable, and obsessive as his portrayal suggests?
But to be fair, he also gives us her stellar moments and lavishes the reader with details about her romances and numerous love affairs. His descriptions of her gorgeous lifestyle bring the reader right into those moments with her.
My favorite parts of her story dealt with her passion for design, bordering on almost obsessive perfectionism for creating rooms in her houses, as well as the details she would bring to the sets in the films she produced and directed. That perfectionism might seem overly zealous, but the results were fabulous.
In recent years, Streisand has produced her own fabulous book chronicling her Passion for Design. I luxuriated in those glossy pages.
At the end of Andersen’s story, I liked this summation that seems to describe all facets of the woman:
“She is, to be sure, a mind-spinning tangle of contradictions: the ugly duckling regarded by millions as an exotic beauty, the boldly confident upstart riddled with self-doubt, the thrift-shop refugee who became a style icon, the generous philanthropist with miserly habits, the demanding diva in search of a father figure, the liberal firebrand with the queenly lifestyle, the electrifying performer crippled by stage fright.”
A colorful read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys celebrity journeys, and specifically, for fans of Streisand, if one can discount the somewhat negative slant of the author. Three stars.