Friday, October 14, 2011

Jane Fonda..The Private Life of a Public Woman by Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworths massive biography of Jane Fonda is a cracker from start to finish. A well known biographer Bosworth had considerable help from those who mattered while writing this book and that is aside from her long standing friendship with Fonda, remarkably Bosworth never becomes drippy over her subject and manages not to loose perspective. Born in to privilege Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda has not had an easy path to walk and quite frankly all the money, fame and love in the world did not cushion Jane from  the many difficulties that life has thrown her way. A mother lost to suicide, a father revered for his acting talents who was cold and remote, 2 alcoholic husbands(Vadim and Hayden) a bipolar 3rd husband (Ted Turner) eating disorders and body issues, huge unpopularity over the Vietnam War and her oppositional behaviour towards it and conversely great beauty, talent, wealth and acclaim, mixed in with huge media exposure and a constantly shifting life landscape. It has taken Fonda along time to find herself although after reading this book you do wonder why she found it so hard to except the wisdom of others as she travelled along, evolving as she went, yet seemingly not able to realise that all the parts were forming a whole. A sad tendency to repeat the patterns of the past, enabling alcoholic husbands and allowing infidelity by omission, a relationship with her daughter Vanessa that closely mirrored her own with her mother Frances and yet an almost unbelievable ability to move outside her circle and comfort, enfold, challenge and enable others to clean up their lives and experience success often for the first time, her contribution to society has been massive especially in the exercise field, it may have helped her to financial security but it would be hard to quantify what those Exercise books, videos etc have meant to others.She stood politically where others refused to go and was warning us of Environmental Issues long before we sat up and listened.
A very well written book, fair, even handed with a narrative that never looses the chance for a little humour, that never over lauds its subject and doesn`t posit her on a throne of unreality, warts and all its been an amazing life.  It is sad however that many will have never seen Fonda in many of her movies roles, by any measure she has been one of the two or three defining actresses of our time, hunt down the videos of Julia, Coming Home, The China Syndrome, The Morning After, Nine to Five and watch real talent at work!

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