readclever's review

Go to review page

5.0

Kristina Hagman offers a healtfelt look at Larry Hagman's life with little apology or acceptance of moments of betrayal. Instead the story of a hard life full of highs and lows, extravagance and cruelty, and abandonment and fear fill the pages. Unlike a biography, there are no areas with careful deliberation. What Kristina illustrates with careful deliberation is a life full of painful triumphs, not only her famous father and grandmother, but her own. Readers sit in the middle of a family discussion without feeling intrusive.

The world may have known Hagman as Major Nelson or J.R. Ewing, but the complicated lines of bonding show more of a complete man. Adultery, drug use, and an aversion to therapy weave a narrative where characters the public knows show up in real life. Even as a close family, there were many hidden parts to the actor and Kristina takes the time to pull every string.

I wish there had been more about her mother, however. Maj, a fearless Swede who conquered loan sharks and Hollywood alike, felt incomplete. And without complete picture, some of Larry's actions didn't feel entirely explained. I wanted to know more about what inspired a woman to move from London to California over decades. And why she loved her husband so fiercely.

It's clear that Kristina is a mashup of her parents while facing the actions of an addict parent. A repeat of history where she chose to break the cycle. Heartbreak seemed to be a calling card in her early years, but the love of family seemed to balance as she grew into the determined artist. She made her own legacy while living in her family's.

This is a book for people who want to know more about Hollywood, the underside of life in the public eye. Not everything is good. Some incidents made me teary-eyed but you learn to believe in the power of dreams. And acceptance. You also learn what friendship is really like among the elite.
More...