Review: Angelina


Name of Book: Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography
By: Andrew Morton
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Copyright Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 313
Format: Biography
Reason for Reading: celebrity biographies are a guilty pleasure
Rating: C

“The room was stark and bare: white carpet, white curtains, white walls, and no furniture except for a white crib. For more than a year, a baby girl lived there, cared for by a ragtag assortment of babysitters-mainly out-of-work actors or acquaintances, working shifts at three dollars an hour around the clock.

The child rarely knew if the person putting her to bed was the one who would dress and feed her in the morning. There were days at a stretch when her mother, who lived in an apartment three stories below, would not visit her.”

When I saw this book on the new releases shelf at the library, my curiosity got the better of me. I have been a fan of Angelina since before she got big and famous. I first saw her in Hackers and was instantantly enamored. I thought she was beautiful and hardcore. And a great actor to boot. I next saw her in Foxfire, but it wasn’t until Gia that I was completely blown away by her skill. Then when she adopted her first child and started doing U.N. tours, I was impressed with her humanitarian efforts. However, I started to feel very ambivalent about her after the whole Brad fiasco.

Reading this book was fascinating. It gave some real insight into her character.  As much as I admired her when I was younger, I never knew too much about her personally aside from what was widely known-she used to be a cutter, she is estranged from her father, she and Billy Bob wore vials of blood.  Getting background on her well-to-do grandparents, her mother’s upbringing, two things became quite clear: a) the drive to be a movie star has been passed down through the generations until it took in Angie b) her upbringing informs many of her actions.

She spent the first few years of her life living alone in an apartment above her mother’s being cared for by babysitters. She grew up in her brother’s shadow.  Why did she kiss her brother? Why does she adopt kids from other countries? Why did she get so angry when her father revealed her adoption to the press? The book sheds new light on every aspect that seems to be public domain about Angelina’s life.

As much as I did enjoy reading this book, it was hard to ignore the heavy handed writing style. The author makes his viewpoint of Angelina very evident. He liberally peppers the story with quotations from psychiatrists and the like commenting on Angelina’s behavior, making clear cut connections between x event in her past to y behavior. He framed the story in this fated fairy tale sort of way, starting with the ivory tower prologue.  For most of the book, I was able to ignore, but at times it did get more than annoying. 

The story itself is an intriguing portrait of a well-known woman. It would have been better if the author could have been a little more objective.

This entry was posted in biography, Nonfiction, Posts by Jehara and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Review: Angelina

  1. bermudaonion says:

    I think that’s a problem with all of Morton’s books – he seems to have an agenda and presents the facts that support it.

  2. I’ve thought about reading this, because I really admire what Angelina Jolie has done with her life, for the most part, but I’m not one of Morton’s fans. I pretty much refuse to read anything he’s written. Based on your review, I think I made a good decision.

  3. izzybella says:

    This is possibly a biased opinion, but I think biographies are always better after the subject is dead and gone. There’s no one to suck up to and hopefully not many left to offend.

    Andrew Morton gives off a National Inquirer vibe, if that makes sense. He makes assumptions based on “facts” that come from third or fourth party sources. I am not a fan.

    • jehara says:

      This is most likely true. The biographies I read about Anais Nin and Anne Sexton were excellent, and they were written well after their time with the cooperation of their peeps.

  4. Bumbles says:

    These are tricky I think. If it is an Authorized Bio – it can be skewed by the info. the subject influences in direct interviews or the people they put the writer in touch with for research, etc. Though I assume any writer worth their salt would still fact check from multiple sources before publishing. As for Unauth. Bios – they can be skewed by the agenda the writer has. Bios after a person has died miss out on the knowledge that died with the person. I find bios fascinating. But I never feel like we know a person through a bio – only the pieces of their world that hovered around them. You only know a person if you know them – if that makes sense. All that said, I can’t resist US Weekly ;0)

    • jehara says:

      At the end of the book there are acknowledgments and sources. He spoke to many people that were close to her family, family members and even her babysitters. I just felt his agenda did get in the way, although I did learn things I didn’t already know about her. Learning about her upbringing definitely shed some light on her behavior. I found absolutely fascinating the fact that as much as she held her father’s affair against him, she consistently tried to steal men away from their lovers, thereby repeating the behavior.

      As far as whether it’s better to write about someone while living or dead, I think it depends. If you have the cooperation of the estate holders and close family members, it can be really illuminating after the person is dead, such as the biographies of Anais Nin and Anne Sexton. I think they are so much better since the subjects aren’t alive. Others may benefit from the subject being alive to get info you might not otherwise have.

      I just like to read about people and their lives, whether it’s in biography form or the occasional tabbie, haha. 😉

    • izzybella says:

      Hahaha, Bumbles! Me too!!! Re: Us Weekly. Complete guilty pleasure, although I have limited myself to ONLY buying Oscar issues, and now any issue with the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I kind of hate myself for it, but there you have it.

      • jehara says:

        I do not buy gossip magazines (aka tabbies) very often. However, I do treat myself to them when I go on trips. Airplanes just require them. And I eat them up whenever I visit someone who has them lying around.

      • Bumbles says:

        I read them at the gym. When one of the guys isn’t hogging them. That is when men get their secret fix of celebrity gossip – by reading the magazines or watching TMZ at the gym ;0)

      • Bumbles says:

        Oh – and I agree. They are perfect for airplanes. Or waiting rooms. Or the hairdresser. Or on the couch…

      • jehara says:

        Oh yeah, bumbles. That is one of the only things to look forward to when going to the doctor-the tabbies. haha!!

  5. Margot says:

    I’m afraid I don’t know a lot about Angelina Jolie. I can only think of one movie I’ve seen her in and most of the information you shared is new to me. I don’t think I live in a vacuum. She’s just not on my radar. If I did want to learn more, it sounds like this book would not be the way to do it.

    I will confess to being fascinated with the opening paragraphs of your review. The idea that anyone (if this is fact not fiction) would treat a child this way is heartbreaking. I wonder if this is the motivation for adopting children. Okay, Jehara, you raised enough questions to peak my interest. Now Angelina Jolie is within my radar.

    • jehara says:

      Well, according to Morton’s sources-A’s babysitters and family members, she spent the bulk of her infanthood being cared for by aspiring actors and lived separately from her mother and brother. Her upbringing definitely has its low points.

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