In this ambitious book, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker—the child, the woman, the fated celebrity and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startling, intimate, and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story, that of an emblematic American artist—intensely conflicted and driven—who has lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood’s myth and an extraordinary woman’s heartbreaking reality, Blonde is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star.
Atkinson narrates Oates's fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe in an intense, slightly husky voice that immediately grabs and holds the listener's attention. Film actress Atkinson deftly switches back and forth between Oates's prose, a breathy Monroe (who "comments" periodically throughout the novel), Monroe's brassy mother, Gladys (who soon succumbs to mental illness), and a series of powerful, impatient men who callously exploit the vulnerable young actress. Her only false note is the dialogue of John F. Kennedy, which she reads without any attempt at the president's distinctive Massachusetts accent. Abridging Oates's epic is no small feat, but all the major events in Monroe's life remain in vivid and often heartbreaking detail. The audio also includes an exclusive interview with Oates, who talks about her impressions of Monroe as a person and as an icon, and discusses how she came to write the 700-plus- page novel, which she originally intended as a 175-page novella. Based on the HarperCollins/ Ecco hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 14).
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I have never been disappointed by a novel by Joyce Carol Oates! Her story of Marilyn Monroe is fascinating and tender. It is such a sad story. But Oates make us love Marilyn as Norma Jean. She and Elton John have this in common.