Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews
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Them: A Memoir of Parentsby Francine Du Plessix Gray
The author tells the story of her mother, Tatiana, a glamorous blonde who arrived in Paris in the 1920s along with many other Russian emigrés. She eventually married the French aristocrat Bertrand du Plessix after having had an affair with the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Her husband died in the resistance during the second world war and Tatiana escaped to New York with her lover, Alexander Lieberman and became famous for her hat designs as Tatiana of Saks, whereas he became to be the art director and eventually the editorial director of Condé Nast.
The book is full of names of those who were considered glamorous and famous in the art and magazine world. I must not forget to mention Marlene Dietrich and Salvdor Dali among their circle. Eventually you get to find out that behind the glamor is much unhappiness.
This biography has been much praised. I am an old fan of the author's, having long admired her and followed her career, but I must confess to not being interested in this tale of fashion and sexy settings. It has also been said that people like to find stories of unhappiness underlying the chic world of wealth and love affairs, particularly so when the heroes and heroines have risen from the bottom to the top.
Be that as it may. Our tastes are, fortunately, not all alike. The writing is always elegant, the story is illustrated with many photos and makes palpable the post war world of Manhattan.