The narrative is interesting enough for me as a fan of Ms. Andrews. Unfortunately, I have little praise for the performance of Rowena Cooper. Her attempts at an American accent are pedestrian at best, showing that it can be just as difficult for a Brit to do an American accent as for an American to do a serviceable British accent. Not unlike Bob Hoskins version of an American accent in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
Just as I am about enjoy a segment, the most jarring of mispronunciations will hit my ears. Ziegfeld is not pronounced "Zig-feld" but "Zige-feld" (long "i" sound; 4 hours and 3 minutes into part II). And who is "Amy Archerd"? A few moments after the aforementioned Ziegfield reference, there is a quote attributed to Variety's long time reporter "Army Archerd" (at about 4:06:51 in part II of 2). I had to listen to that one over and over again to be sure I had heard what I thought I had heard. Maybe Amy is like Victoria to Victor? Sadly, no.
I always enjoy hearing backstage stories and this book was specifically geared to this.
Judy. You get the measure of a woman who was a signing and dancing marionette, who had little control over her professional and personal life. Yet all of the show business personalities used and abused her talents without apparently acknowledging this. Somehow, she maintained a resiliency that allowed her to be involved in the incredible body of work described in the book.
I enjoyed the shift that the narrator presented as he spoke as the different personalities. The Judy Garlard voice was interesting, but not really necessary. What I intensely disliked was the seeming lack of preparation that resulted in the mispronunciation of names ("Dick Bogard"?, "EV-ah-lyn Waugh" as opposed to "EVE-ah-lyn...) and terms ("biopic" was pronounced "by-OPP-ic", rather than "BY-oh-pic"). Every time such terms were read, I openly cringed...
While the narrator has a mellifluous reading voice, I think significant care should also have gone into learning how to correctly pronounce names and related industry terms.
Penny's candid and conversational style made me truly feel like I was sitting across a table from someone casually sharing memories of the past. It wasn't encased in contrived prose that did not fit with our perception of the personality that is Penny Marshall.
Only Patti LuPone could capture the pathos and euphoria of the chapters of her own life. The first time I listened right after purchase, I was listening for facts and details. The second time, I listened for emotion. Her journey, as described by La LuPone herself, is at times harrowing and, at others, exhilarating. Her diction in the narrative passages was precise (almost too precise on some passages) but her asides felt real, loose, conversational. Ms. LuPone is generous with her praise of colleagues and persons who helped her on this journey. Those who were part of her emotional and professional lives where positive and negatives existed, were treated as "grays" rather than one shade or another. Those at the wrong end of her ire should be absolutely clear on her recollection and feelings of her encounters with her; I understood where these people stand with her. Wow.
Professor Shargel delivery is passionate and joyous. Unfortunately, halfway through, this scholar lost me. As he presents "Casablanca" and "Now, Voyager", he mentions the name of Jerry's daughter in the latter as "June". JUNE!? Any self-respecting fan of "Now, Voyager" knows the girl's name was Tina!!! June was the name of Charlotte's niece (portrayed by Bonita Granville), not Jerry Durrance's daughter!
Not even for my love of Lucy can I overlook yet another ill-prepared reading of a book. Helen Brady, the performer for "Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball" may be able to roll her R's for "arroz con pollo" but "cringingly" mispronounces general accepted names such as Garson Kanin as "Garson Cannon". Pantages, rather than with the expected emphasis on the second syllable, has the emphasis on the first, requiring the listener to rewind or playback to make sure they heard it correctly.
Are there editorial/performance meetings before such recordings? At least with the author performing their own work you know that however they pronounce something it is uniquely them. When a hired performer reads another's work, listeners who purchase/license work have some expectation of more than a soothing, modulated voice. We want accurate phrasing and pronunciation.
Whether the content written by author Chandler is true or not, I find it appalling that the narrator appears to have prepared less than adequately for her performance. She pronounces a number of names incorrectly, such as Charles Boyer (pronounced "Boi-yuhr", as opposed to the expected "Boi-yay") and Jack Palance (Pa-LANCE instead of the correct PAL-ance). There is a deliberate pacing that could be admirable until I positively cringe with such pronunciation errors.
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