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Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine

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30 review for Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Neither sister comes off particularly well in this bio, but the writing is the real loser. Aside from being in need of a good editor and less gossipy feel, it's sprinkled with WTF moments like: "Walter de Havilland...often let his incestuous feelings for Joan be known. Still a virgin and very insecure about sexual matters, Joan was certainly not ready for incest." What?!? When would she be ready??? Aside from the distractingly bad writing, interesting to get to know one of my favorites (yes, Oliv Neither sister comes off particularly well in this bio, but the writing is the real loser. Aside from being in need of a good editor and less gossipy feel, it's sprinkled with WTF moments like: "Walter de Havilland...often let his incestuous feelings for Joan be known. Still a virgin and very insecure about sexual matters, Joan was certainly not ready for incest." What?!? When would she be ready??? Aside from the distractingly bad writing, interesting to get to know one of my favorites (yes, Olivia, like the author) a little better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    A game attempt to put the record straight after Joan’s autobiography apparently bulldozed the facts. This book doesn’t seem to be written by a fan — more often than not the author sounds like a catty rival. Both sisters come off as charmingly manipulative, selfish and supercilious — but I think it’s Joan that shows the most signs of emotional instability. I mean, she informally adopts a little girl from Peru and then after their falling out, tries to get the immigration authorities to deport her A game attempt to put the record straight after Joan’s autobiography apparently bulldozed the facts. This book doesn’t seem to be written by a fan — more often than not the author sounds like a catty rival. Both sisters come off as charmingly manipulative, selfish and supercilious — but I think it’s Joan that shows the most signs of emotional instability. I mean, she informally adopts a little girl from Peru and then after their falling out, tries to get the immigration authorities to deport her. Definitely had Mommie Dearest issues.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    The tension filled relationship between the sisters is interesting as is the information about their respective careers, the problem lies in the author's perspective. Higham obviously has contempt for his subjects. Neither come across as the sweetest of women which is to be expected from people who were so driven to success and whose early life was ruled by a domineering mother who pitted them against each other and a largely absent father. The thing is that the author fails to remain objective, The tension filled relationship between the sisters is interesting as is the information about their respective careers, the problem lies in the author's perspective. Higham obviously has contempt for his subjects. Neither come across as the sweetest of women which is to be expected from people who were so driven to success and whose early life was ruled by a domineering mother who pitted them against each other and a largely absent father. The thing is that the author fails to remain objective, he obviously prefers Olivia; she does come across as the more human of the pair, and his condensation to both of their work is off putting. Additionally his overview is strictly surface, he covers the landmark de Havilland decision that broke the back of the contract system under an anti-peonage statue in a mere three pages. Not a waste of time but not an in depth look at two complex women or their era.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    I always liked Olivia de Havilland more of the pair. Not sure if that was only due to her movies, or if this book helped!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kakashi Hatake

    Hmmmm... Where do I begin? The writing is all right, but sometimes it has some SERIOUSLY cringe worthy moments. It certainly doesn't help that the writer (Mr. Higham) passes it as normal. For example the following excerpt: "In the history of siblings, we are told that the father is often drawn sexually to his youngest daughter, but normally the father represses the feelings aroused by the young girl's budding attractiveness." (Hardbook Edition, Pg. 33) Er... um... ookkkkay then. Maybe in his creepy Hmmmm... Where do I begin? The writing is all right, but sometimes it has some SERIOUSLY cringe worthy moments. It certainly doesn't help that the writer (Mr. Higham) passes it as normal. For example the following excerpt: "In the history of siblings, we are told that the father is often drawn sexually to his youngest daughter, but normally the father represses the feelings aroused by the young girl's budding attractiveness." (Hardbook Edition, Pg. 33) Er... um... ookkkkay then. Maybe in his creepy, demented world this line of thinking is fine, but it's not in any sane person. I sincerely hope he never had a daughter. The book is filled with much more cringe worthy moments, but I'm not going to bother to name them all. I also wasn't a big fan of Mr. Higham's fancy with sensationalism (he would have made an awesome TMZ "Journalist").Every other man in this book is handsome, rugged, dashing good looking. Joan and Olivia can't help but be taken in with Mr (Insert name here, since they dated everyone under the sun) ruggedness masculinity... blah..blah...blah. Here's an example of the sheer stupidity of it all taken from page 189-190. "A classic stud (referring to Prince Aly Khan)relaxed, sensual, fearless-he made women feel more intensely feminine then they felt with anyone else. His dark muscular body was irresistible..." The sensationalism of this paragraph is hilarious at best, and the book is filled with them. A simple Google Search will show one that Prince Aly Khan wasn't a handsome stud, and he CERTAINLY was not muscular. But hey, when you're rich and powerful, I guess people see you with a skewed lens. Now to the stars of the book (Olivia and Joan). Joan had a very messed up childhood. She was treated like garbage, ridiculed by her mom, father, step-father, Olivia, and neighbors. Olivia was specially cruel to Joan as children. I won't bother naming examples because there;s too many to name. Olivia and Joan overall both were portrayed in this book quite badly. They both just seem to be terrible human beings with little remorse and no room for forgiveness. The main culprit for this had to be LIlian, their mother. She was a cruel woman who passed this cruelty to her daughters. The sisters blame each other for their problems, but never seemed to move past their differences and grow up. The sad thing is that even know (2016), this seems to be the case. Olivia De Havilland turned 100 about a month ago. Yet, EVEN NOW, she has taken to calling Joan "The dragon lady" (in spite) because she says Joan was always angry. That's right, even a century of life and she's still calling her dead sister names. She also said that she (Olivia) was not to blame for any of the problems they ever had. It was all Joan's fault and she just defended herself. Aha, sure it was. All in all it was an okay read. Mr. Higham has been caught and has himself admitted to doing lpoor research for his books : Take from Wikipedia - According to Higham and Roy Moseley, in their biography of Cary Grant (1989), the actor was on the grounds of the home of actress Sharon Tate on the night in 1969 she was murdered. Higham admitted in an interview that the incident was "poorly documented".[12] So everything I read I took with a grain of salt. Just my two cents.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Not a great bio, but it was fun and didn't outstay its welcome. I could never wait to get back to it. The writing style is amusing and serviceable. Grammatically sloppy, the ex-library copy I managed to purchase ($20, which is a rare low price on Amazon for this title) had endless corrections penciled throughout. I had bought the book prior to Joan Fontaine's death but started reading it afterwards. The week of her death I coincidentally came across her episode of BBC Radio's "Desert Island Disc Not a great bio, but it was fun and didn't outstay its welcome. I could never wait to get back to it. The writing style is amusing and serviceable. Grammatically sloppy, the ex-library copy I managed to purchase ($20, which is a rare low price on Amazon for this title) had endless corrections penciled throughout. I had bought the book prior to Joan Fontaine's death but started reading it afterwards. The week of her death I coincidentally came across her episode of BBC Radio's "Desert Island Discs" in which she was insanely charming. Luckily I had already brought this book along on my vacation. I must say that I side with Joan in this famous feud. And not because she didn't act horribly; Olivia comes across as ultimately maternal, somewhat wifely, and strong willed for good causes -- a very respectable person. However, I would rather travel with Joan to hot cheap countries or dine with her at Le Cirque. Yes, Joan was a faithless wife many times over, and such a horrid mother that she tried to have her adopted daughter deported back to Peru when the girl disregarded her financial acumen in front of a reporter. But who wants to hang out with Olivia anyway? Yes, she's serious about her craft, and her research and concentration are admirable. Yes, she was strong enough to stand up to the indentured servitude of the studios' seven year contracts, and in the process contributed to the decline of the studio system. But she was a laughably bad judge of men, couldn't manage her money, and took herself sooo seriously. I would rather watch Joan Fontaine's films, of which I feel there are several that are far more interesting (although she also made more lackluster ones than Olivia). I wish this book had gone into greater detail about their films, but that was not the style when this was written in 1982. Biographies dished the dirt on their personal lives, unlike now when star bios are written with sensitive intellect by film historians. Perhaps this has also become possible with the advent of cable and home video which has made old films more readily available. The author barely mentioned Fontaine's personal favorites "The Constant Nymph" or "September Song", and stated that "Letter from an Unknown Woman" was a classic to a few but forgotten to most. This may have been true in 1982 but "Letter" has been widely available on Criterion Collection since the laserdisc years. The other drawback of this book is its publication in 1982. I would like to know if Joan ever reconciled with her daughters. There is a recent biography of these two sisters that keeps disappearing from Amazon and has only one rating on Goodreads, entitled "Twisted Sisters: To Each Her Own" by Darwin Porter and Roy Moseley. I hope it gets legitimately published someday.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J

    A very well written, fast-paced, interesting biography of 2 sisters who from their early years were pitted against each other. The book describes their journey through a strict childhood and Hollywood competition to become famous actresses and follows their colourful lives in Japan, England, U.S. and France. It offers insight into their relationships with parents, husbands and children. It delves into the sibling rivalry but does not discuss in detail the roots of their enmity, instead their rel A very well written, fast-paced, interesting biography of 2 sisters who from their early years were pitted against each other. The book describes their journey through a strict childhood and Hollywood competition to become famous actresses and follows their colourful lives in Japan, England, U.S. and France. It offers insight into their relationships with parents, husbands and children. It delves into the sibling rivalry but does not discuss in detail the roots of their enmity, instead their relationships and movie careers are discussed at length. Nevertheless, the movies are mentioned in relation to the sisters' involvement in them, which gives the book a more personal feel. Perhaps the only thing that the book could improve upon is that it reads a bit more like a gossip column than a critical biography. However, this does not prevent it from being an informative and enjoyable book to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teddie

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jason Stamp

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

  12. 4 out of 5

    Virginie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Cain

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna Dudek

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bolmarcich

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diane Vermette

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

  18. 4 out of 5

    Irene Xandra

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ana Caballero

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Victoria S.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Jepson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jillroshto

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Stapel

  25. 4 out of 5

    C!NDY L00

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stela Zoric

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mean Nostalgist

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