Friday, September 5, 2008

Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams

Recommendation: Yes. I think this book was entertaining and interesting.

What I liked:

Esther Williams was a champion swimmer when there were not a lot of women in the sport. She qualified for the Olympics, then WWII broke out. She is a great example of someone who made something out of themselves.
The details she includes about how she got into swimming, the behind-the-scenes dramatics, and what little pieces of advice helped her along the way are fascinating to me.

I like that Esther did not sleep her way to the top. She did not use men, and she did not allow herself to be used. I admire how spunky she was in deflecting the passes of the creepy men in her story.

I like the way her voice shows through with old fashioned phrases, and views of what was going on. She has a good sense of humor. I also enjoyed all her cracks about the short men. Very funny.

I loved the pictures in the middle. It took me a while before I noticed them, and I think they really add to the narrative! She was so amazingly beautiful! So classic.

Having grown up in a pool, and always surrounded by swimmers, it was fun to read her perspective on swimming and those around her in the movie business that didn't get it. I swam with a couple of girls who competed in synchro, and it was cool to see how Esther Williams was so instrumental in developing it, and furthering it as a real sport. In fact she mentions at the end how it was made an official sport in the 1984 Olympics in LA and the winners were Tracie Ruiz-Conforto and Candy Costie. They were from Bothell and they even named the pool we swam in Highschool after them, so how's that for 6 degrees of seperation.

What I didn't like:

Be forwarned that some really terrible things happen to Esther. She has some horrible things happen to her when she was young, and some more when she's older. Obviously they need to be in the book, but I still didn't like reading about them. So sad.

It bugged me that she admitted and was frusterated that her movies were all fluff and basically the stame story line, yet she was huffy and offended if someone else said the same thing.

I also started feeling a little skeptical about Esther's opinions. I think in its own right, this is a bit of a "tell-all" book. She mainly focuses on herself and the details of her life, but she does name names. There are all kinds of little stories of big stars in not-so-flattering light. I'm sure they are true, but I just wonder why she felt like she had to report the dirt on others. ALSO, as she gets older, she makes several choices that I think are hard to justify, yet she does. She is honest about her motivations at times, but other times she seems to miss the irony that she was acting like those she earlier condemned. It kind of made me trust her less.

Suggestions: Amy told me that our library had collections of Esther William's films. I checked one out that had 6 DVDs. I admit I didn't watch all of them, the stories are sweet, but a little silly. I did a lot of fast forwarding of scenes she wasn't in, but it was so cool to see the scenes and actors that she talked about in the book. I LOVED IT! I think it would have been cool to watch them intermittently as I was reading the book.


Amy said...

I'm glad you liked the book. Hopefully I forwarned you enough of the stuff that was sad and not fun to read. I totally agree with you about the "tell-all" feeling to the book. I spent much of the later part of the book concerning Fernando Lamaz saying, "What do you think you are doing?!?" I was so frustrated by some of her choices. I thought it was a great book to learn about some of the fun fluff of Hollywood, but there was certainly a lot of the sad stuff too.

Kim Edwards said...

I love how you read such a wide variety of books. It is always fun to read your reviews. : )

kim said...

kam, i love your choice of this book. this one looks like a good one and i've always thought she was so beautiful. i know what you mean about the tell all aspect, and the unf. things you read about a person. just finished a biography on princess grace, who i've always loved and kind of made me sad to realize that their marriage wasn't as fairytale as i thought. thanks for the fun review!

Hayley's Comment said...

I love reading about real people, and since I'm a swimmer too I will have to add this to my long list! Thanks so much for the reveiw!