“I remember that my life was perfect. It felt so perfect that I thought something was bound to go wrong… But then I suddenly knew something was bound to go wrong. And it did.” With these Joan Didion-like cool and analytical words, the actress Isabel Gillies proceeds to tell the true tale of her unexpected divorce. Like Didion’s works, the book starts off slowly but with an air of great promise. Unfortunately, the author begins the journey in first gear and never leaves it.
Perhaps more importantly, Gillies fails to come off as someone likeable; certainly not the type of person we would like to have tea with. Late in the book Gillies quotes her own mother as a critic of her self-absorption, her complaining, her belief that the world revolves around her. Indeed, and this probably had more than a bit to do with the divorce that her husband sought and was granted.
Another weakness is that we’re told only one side of the story by a clearly biased source. Perhaps if the second half had been written by her ex-husband, we might have had the opportunity to learn something from the reading.
As it is, there’s not much to see here, so move along. No great lessons, no inspirations. We simply, in the words of Bob Dylan, see life and life only. Which is exactly why, when Gillies divulged the dramatic news of her impending divorce to a supposed friend, this person responded, “(It) happens every day.”
Scribner, $25.00, 259 pages
A copy of the book was purchased by the reviewer.
Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.