REVIEW: IN PIECES, BY SALLY FIELD

 

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first TV role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced “girl next door” to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships—including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

 

My Thoughts: A fan of Sally Field since her early days on TV, I felt immediately drawn to her first person narrative, beginning with her family history of matriarchal women whose lives were an example of love, connections, flaws and strength.

Her struggles as a child, dealing with the twisted relationship with her stepfather, resonated with me, having read about some of these experiences in part, but which I learned in depth In Pieces.

Her beginnings as an actor were not easy, and she had to persist to finally discover her niche. And when she did find her place as an actor, a woman, and she revealed how she finally connected to her seemingly elusive mother, I could relax and enjoy learning about her life and her work, and how memorable it would all be in the end. 5 stars.

***

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REVIEW: BORN WITH TEETH: A MEMOIR, BY KATE MULGREW

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The first daughter of Joan and Thomas Mulgrew came into the world with four tiny baby teeth, and while the parents were amazed and crowed over her beauty, the friends and neighbors in Dubuque, Iowa, worried that being so proud of her looks would bring nothing good.

Eventually, however, the tiny teeth were removed by the doctor, and the baby grew normally, developing a zest for solid food.

Thus began the life of Kate Mulgrew, who was followed by several more babies, until the family eventually moved to a larger house in the country, one they came to call Derby Grange.

Born with Teeth is a memoir, but it reads like a fictional story at times, and I held my breath, wondering what would unfold next. Not having read much about this actress before this book, I was drawn into the story of how she came to attend Stella Adler’s Studio of Acting as a teenager; how she starred in various productions through the workshop; and eventually joined a soap opera called Ryan’s Hope. While on that show, she fell in love with a young man…and got pregnant. The pregnancy was written into the show, but sadly, afterwards, she gave up the baby, a girl, for adoption. This loss would follow her throughout the years.

Theater was her first love, but she came to appreciate television production, and went on to be a part of another TV show called HeartBeat, in which she starred as a doctor. I remember this show, and enjoyed watching her perform.

Love came along, too, and two beautiful sons. But the marriage would not survive….and she escaped to Ireland to heal. Where she met her true soul mate. But would that relationship survive, with all the obstacles that stood in their way?

Meanwhile, her biggest show yet was about to come. Star Trek: Voyager would come to be one remembered by most people. The show was on for seven seasons.

Now she is a wonderful star in Orange Is the New Black, where she inhabits the role of Red as only she can.

Would Kate eventually find the happiness and love she longed for? Would her life settle into something peaceful? Turning the pages was a very satisfying experience for me, as I wanted to find the answers, too, and I enjoyed her writing style, which felt as though we were having a conversation. Then, in the final, suspenseful chapters, I felt a wonderful satisfaction about the events that unfolded. 5 stars.