In her stunning memoir, Wendy Lawless tells the often heartbreaking tale of her unconventional upbringing with an unstable alcoholic and suicidal mother—a real-life Holly Golightly turned Mommie Dearest—and the uncommon sense of resilience that allowed her to rise above it all.
Georgann Rea didn’t bake cookies or go to PTA meetings; she wore a mink coat and always had a lit Dunhill plugged into her cigarette holder. She’d slept with too many men and a few women, and she didn’t like dogs or children. Georgann possessed the icy beauty of a Hitchcock heroine with the cold heart to match.
From living at the Dakota in 1960s Manhattan to London’s swinging town houses and beyond, Wendy Lawless and her younger sister navigated day-to-day life as their unstable and fabulously neglectful mother, Georgann, chased her delusions, suffered dramatic breakdowns, and survived suicide attempts. With clear-eyed grace and flashing wit, Lawless portrays the highs and lows of her unhinged upbringing—and how she survived her mother’s endlessly destructive search for glamour and fulfillment—in “a searing memoir that reads like a novel” (Anne Korkeakivi, An Unexpected Guest).
A dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship grows progressively worse with deepening alcohol use and emotional denial as depicted in L.A. actress Lawless's wrought and engaging memoir of growing up in the late 1960s. Lawless's mother, Georgann, was an orphan adopted by a wealthy, abusive couple in Kansas City, Mo., or at least that's what she recounted in moments of sadistic punishment to her own daughters, Wendy and Robin. Having left the girls' father, a Midwestern actor, for the glamorous older Broadway director Oliver Rea, who installed the broken family in the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan in 1968, then largely neglected them, Georgann lived off alimony and the largess of boyfriends, leaving the girls in the care of nannies and fancy schools. Georgann went from playing the Park Avenue socialite to Sloan Square glam girl, when they moved to London in 1971, to Connecticut Yankee housewife, when they relocated to the suburbs of Cambridge in the late 1970s, and the two sisters had to learn how to be resilient at new schools and in social situations, and, above all, to keep people from knowing the truth about their erratic, suicidal, alcoholic mother, who even lied about their real father and denied the girls access to him for 10 years. As the elder, the author acted as her mother's enabler and nurse, and with great hindsight conveys her early despair.
Wendy survived terrible things and shared her life with us in this great memoir.