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Happy Accidents | [Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett (foreword)]

Happy Accidents

In the summer of 1974, a 14-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream - a dream to become an actress. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling, or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that "professional training was a requirement". But the funny thing is, it all came true....
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Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1974, a 14-year-old girl in Dolton, Illinois, had a dream. A dream to become an actress, like her idols Ron Howard and Vicki Lawrence. But it was a long way from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, and it didn’t help that she’d recently dropped out of the school play, The Ugly Duckling, or that the Hollywood casting directors she wrote to replied that "professional training was a requirement".

But the funny thing is, it all came true. Through a series of happy accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable—and hilarious—path to success. In those early years, despite her dreams, she was also consumed with anxiety, feeling out of place in both her body and her family. To deal with her worries about her sexuality, she escaped in positive ways—such as joining a high-school chorus not unlike the one in Glee—but also found destructive outlets. She started drinking almost every night during her freshman year of high school and developed a mean and judgmental streak that turned her into a real-life Sue Sylvester.

Then, at 31, she started to get her life together. She was finally able to embrace her sexuality, come out to her parents, and quit drinking for good. Soon after, a Frosted Flakes commercial and a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to a role in the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show, which helped her to get cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Similar coincidences and chance meetings led to roles in movies starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and even Meryl Streep in 2009's Julie & Julia.

Then, of course, came the two lucky accidents that truly changed her life. Getting lost in a hotel led to an introduction to her future wife, Lara. And then a series she’d signed up for abruptly got canceled, making it possible for her to take the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, which made her a megastar. Today, Jane Lynch has finally found the contentment she thought she’d never have.

Part comic memoir and part inspirational narrative, this is a book equally for the rabid Glee fan and for anyone who needs a new perspective on life, love, and success.

Read by the author, with a foreword written and read by Carol Burnett.

©2011 Canyon Lady Productions (P)2011 Hyperion (packaging elements only)

What the Critics Say

"A triumphant memoir recounting the inner struggles of one of the most versatile actresses working today…Achingly sad and sweetly comic at the same time." (Kirkus)

"[A] frank, engaging, and at times uproariously funny autobiography of a roller-coaster life." (Vogue)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (361 )
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4.4 (331 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Diane United States 12-11-12
    Diane United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
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    57
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    "Sweet, benign"
    Any additional comments?

    I give this book five stars because it delivers as promised and the fact that I didn’t like it is rather a reflection of my poor choice in having selected the book (it was on sale) than the quality of the author’s work. Celebrity lives just aren’t all that interesting and even the most talented actors do not necessarily (or likely) have the literary skills to write compelling stories about themselves. After having read some other celebrity memoirs - “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” (Rob Lowe), “The Elephant to Hollywood” (Michael Caine) - I shouldn’t be surprised that this book fell flat for me. “Happy Accidents” follows the predictable formula of many in this genre: the misfit/defiant childhood, insecure adolescence, years as a struggling actor, first break, climb to greatness, and all the wonderful people who helped along the way. If you’re a huge fan of Jane Lynch and have seen most of her work, you’ll probably appreciate her book. If you’re looking for a good piece of literature with novel insights, then you may want to pass on this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    La Becket New York, NY 01-07-13
    La Becket New York, NY 01-07-13

    LaB

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I really wanted to love this"
    Any additional comments?

    I so wanted to love this book, since I've loved Jane Lynch in virtually everything I've ever seen her in -- from The Forty-Year-Old Virgin to O Sister, My Sister. But her life story, as it turns out, is much too thin to support an entire book -- at least in this well-scrubbed, mild-mannered telling. Coming-out stories just aren't enough to warrant autobiography, at least not anymore -- and particularly not when coming out seems as painless and matter-of-fact as it seems to have been for Lynch. Moreover, everyone she's ever met is just super -- incredibly nice, warm, unpretentious, etc. Everything that's ever happened to her has at least one (if not two, or three) silver linings. And life is pretty much uneventful and awesome, such that whole hours of this audiobook can be spent (and are) on the life-changing dilemma of what color to paint the master bedroom in her fabulous new house.

    Oy.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kat Fremont, CA, United States 08-06-12
    Kat Fremont, CA, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Will the real Jane Lynch please stand up!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Hearing Jane's telling of her life makes her more likeable and real to me now!


    What other book might you compare Happy Accidents to and why?

    Ellen Degeneres' "Seriously, I'm Kidding" - real stories about how they came into the business and how they came to their lives.


    What does Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Jane's voice, with her sly vocal movements make it so much more consumable.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Will the real Jane Lynch please stand up!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Merrill Athens, GA, United States 03-16-12
    Merrill Athens, GA, United States 03-16-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth a listen, if you like Jane Lynch"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed it overall, although Jane Lynch's life hasn't really been dramatic or traumatic enough to put this at the level of tell-all Hollywood bio, and she doesn't dish about other stars much, either.

    All that's undoubtedly to her credit, but it doesn't exactly make for a page-turner. Still, if you like her work in Glee or anything else she's done, it's a pleasant listen. Not up to the humor in Tina Fey's Bossypants, but interesting enough for listening while driving or walking.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I'm not sure she could have changed it. It was honest, or at least, honest enough.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Her struggles with coming out were probably the most interesting parts of the book.


    Was Happy Accidents worth the listening time?

    Overall, yes, but I'm a fan of her work.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Red 02-04-12
    Red 02-04-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "More authentic than the usual celebrity biography"
    Would you listen to Happy Accidents again? Why?

    I might listen to it again, or to parts of it that are particularly compelling and that describe transformative moments in the writer's life.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It's an autobiography so obviously the favorite character is Jane Lynch, the author and narrator of her own story.


    What does Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Anytime an author narrates his or her own autobiography, it's a plus. A third-person narrator often misses the appropriate tone for specific incidents and feelings that are being conveyed. Carol Burnett's foreword did not add much. It seemed more like a kind of requisite endorsement from an established comic actress (


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    An unlikely star sees all her dreams come true.


    Any additional comments?

    The best things about this reading are 1) Lynch's own narration 2) Her willingness to tell the

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle West Chester, OH, United States 01-16-12
    Michelle West Chester, OH, United States 01-16-12

    cincysaab95

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Much better than I expected"
    What made the experience of listening to Happy Accidents the most enjoyable?

    The entire book: from hearing Carol Burnett's voice as well as Jane's, hearing about Jane's,


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Happy Accidents?

    Jane meeting her life partner Dr. Lara Embry and her new daughter, Haden.


    What about Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) ’s performance did you like?

    All of it. Well read/written.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    All of Jane's experiences.


    Any additional comments?

    Looking forward to,

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia CLINTON, SC, United States 12-12-11
    Sylvia CLINTON, SC, United States 12-12-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Interesting and funny"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend it. Jane Lynch is so interesting and describes her life with such detail that I was intrigued from the get go. I love her dry humor too. She's great.


    What other book might you compare Happy Accidents to and why?

    Happy Accidents kind of reminded me of Tina Fey's Bossypants. In fact, it was funny to hear about their experiences with the Chicago improve group, both mentioning being part of the touring groups and how they viewed these quite differently. Really funny.


    Have you listened to any of Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I listened to Carol Burnett's autobiography too. Loved it as well. It was fun hearing both talk about each other in their separate books. Great background, behind the scenes details in both books was a lot of fun to hear.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    There were certainly parts that made me laugh. There were some very touching parts too but I don't think I cried too much.


    Any additional comments?

    If you don't know who Jane Lynch is at all it probably wouldn't be AS interesting as it is for somebody who likes her work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chomper's Girl Nobletucky, IN 02-21-14
    Chomper's Girl Nobletucky, IN 02-21-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    6
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    "A name dropping blow by blow of average"
    What would have made Happy Accidents better?

    Less detail of every person's name, every show, every flight etc. After a while just felt like a long thank you to every person she had ever talked to. And every instance was an "it was amazing." “I was so happy”.


    What does Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It was great to hear the actual author read the book.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Many of the personal stories were insightful and interesting to hear about.


    Any additional comments?

    Unlike Bossy Pants by Tina Fey where I laughed through most of the book, Jane Lynch’s story was lacking humor. The last few chapters are slogging through every show she was ever on and every person she ever talked to … it was drudgery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Fatani west jordan, UT USA 08-06-13
    Melinda Fatani west jordan, UT USA 08-06-13 Member Since 2013

    kindle_touch_KJ

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    "Well spent time!"
    Would you listen to Happy Accidents again? Why?

    I enjoyed Jane's story- it was interesting, compelling, relatable, humorous, and entertaining.


    What did you like best about this story?

    My favorite thing about this book was that it was read by the author. It felt like I got to know a new friend.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Jane 's childhood was so well described that I felt like I was watching a documentary.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill BROOKLYN, NY, United States 07-08-13
    Jill BROOKLYN, NY, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    8
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    "Bravely Honest"
    If you could sum up Happy Accidents in three words, what would they be?

    funny, fascinating, enlightening


    What other book might you compare Happy Accidents to and why?

    Any other funny lady memoir. It's like a darker Bossy Pants. Or an older Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Probably most similar to Rachel Dratch's A Girl Walks Into A Bar or even Dick Van Dyke's My Lucky Life...


    What does Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett (foreword) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Obviously you want to hear Jane Lynch's voice when reading her memoir.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    One moment with her step-daughter which I won't spoil for you. Just in general, her struggles with her sexuality and alcoholism were moving and illuminating.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the best memoir I've read since Bossypants. Jane Lynch's life is fascinating, lucky, and at times, embarrassing. Definitely worth a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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