Unfortunately, this book was a massive disappointment which is a huge shame because it was one of my most anticipated reads for this year’s #ClassicFilmReading challenge. I had never read anything about Olivia de Havilland before, so I was looking forward to diving into this biography and immersing myself in her world and film career. I mean, it goes without saying that de Havilland is an absolute legend and one of the last of her ilk left on Earth. I kid you not, de Havilland will turn 103 years old on July 1st.
She’s literally the last of her kind and it’s a pity to think that during her lifetime, no one’s written a truly definitive biography of her. I was hoping that Lady Triumphant by Victoria Amador was going to be that book, but no. It’s not that it was awful, because it wasn’t. It just wasn’t what I was expecting (something similar happened when I read Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit).
Plainly put, Lady Triumphant is an overlong fan letter from one of de Havilland’s greatest fans. Straight from the beginning, the author introduces herself in the Prologue as a lifelong fan of de Havilland’s and describes the way her relationship with de Havilland was formed through pen pal letters sent over decades of time. Right away I knew this wasn’t going to be the book for me because it never ends well when the author of a celebrity biography admits to being a rapid fangirl/boy of his/her subject.
It was also fairly obvious to me that this was Amador’s first book. The narrative was sloppy and oftentimes all over the place. There was no real sense of time unfolding naturally because significant events in de Havilland’s life weren’t presented to the reader chronologically (a huge no-no in non-fiction in my opinion). Because of this haphazard way of describing de Havilland’s personal life and Hollywood career, Amador repeats herself quite often, having to go back and forth through time describing one random event after another.
If, like me, you were looking for a great, definitive biography on Olivia de Havilland, this book isn’t the one, trust me. Again, it’s not awful, it’s just not good enough. Certainly not good enough for the living legend that is Olivia de Havilland!
This book review was posted as part of Raquel’s #ClassicFilmReading challenge.