The Mmm Girl: Marilyn Monroe by Herself by Tara Hanks

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The Mmm Girl; Marilyn Monroe by Herself, by Tara Hanks

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A fictitious autobiography, this is a fascinating look at Marilyn's life as she might have told it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 348 Date: November 2007
Publisher: UKA Press
ISBN: 978-1905796137

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Before reading this book, I didn't know a whole lot about Marilyn Monroe. In fact, 'blonde actress with a penchant for wearing fab dresses and standing in front of wind machines' pretty much summed it up. I've seen no more than a couple of her films, and not read much about her, so I was intrigued when this book came through – a fictitious autobiography of the girl, or as the front cover rather contradictingly says, Marilyn Monroe by herself… By Tara Hanks.

Because I didn't know that much about Miss Monroe, I can't tell you how accurate this book is, though I think it's probably a logical guess that it wouldn't have got this far if it wasn't reasonably in line with widely accepted facts and assumptions about the actress. What I can tell you, however, is that's it's a brilliant, believable read that I enjoyed more than I expected to.

It's a weird and wonderful look into her life, from her childhood in foster homes and orphanages to her many marriages and relationships and her eventual death. The book is written as a sort of autobiographical diary which focuses a lot on the who and the what with much less emphasis on Miss Monroe's feelings about the events going on in her life – in fact, there was an interesting absence of emotions documented throughout the entire book. Something else there is a notable lack of is reference time points – only a few times in the book is the year mentioned, and since her real age and public age don't always correlate, these are no help either. The passing of time is slightly confusing because a new paragraph can occur anything from minutes to years later, and there are no hints to clarify this for you.

Though her fame certainly adds something, I think this would have been a really interesting read even if she wasn't a well known name. Her family background is both unusual and confusing, her climb through the studio ranks is inspiring and entertaining, and her personal life in adulthood out-scandals any issue of OK! or Heat magazines.

There were two things that niggled me about the book, though neither could be helped. One was the never-ending list of characters who appeared, some briefly and some for an extended stay. Keeping the Joes and the Toms and the Jimmies and the Johns separate took some real concentration, but since these were the important people in her life, it would have been remiss to exclude them just to make things easier for the reader. Similarly, I thought the last fifty pages dragged a bit, but if you're telling a real life story you can hardly exclude massive chunks just to keep it a tighter story. If this had been a properly fictitious story, then I think it would have been a completely different read, and her death, if it still came, might have made it in around the page 250 mark.

There is a lot written about Miss Monroe, and I suppose you could assume it would be quite easy to write a book like this, with so much documented history to refer to, but I would take a different view. This isn't just a string of facts knitted together in chronological order like a Wikipedia entry – it's a proper, engaging story that is a really fun and educational read. I learnt a lot through reading, not just of the actress's love for pills and booze but also about the politics of the day, but at the same time it didn't seem at all like a history lesson.

I would like to thank the author for supplying this book.

You might enjoy Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner. If you are interested in the history of the nineteen fifties and sixties America, Bookbag can recommend Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot.

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Buy The Mmm Girl: Marilyn Monroe by Herself by Tara Hanks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mmm Girl: Marilyn Monroe by Herself by Tara Hanks at


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