Sunday 29 September 2019

#BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt. This book has been reissued and is being published in paperback by Virago Books this September.

This is certainly the year to do that, because June 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and on October 4th 2019 the motion picture JUDY starring Renee Zellwegger and Jessie Buckley is set to be released in the UK
About the Author
Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University.  After a nerve-racking stint in a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down to writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-listed for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame  The Sunday Times said ‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’

Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for the Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion pages.  Last year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics.  Susie is also a director at the Hampstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.

She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

Follow @SusieBoyt on Twitter, on Goodreads,
Buy My Judy Garland Life

About the book
An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person's enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old; comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her.  In this unique book Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.

Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession, anyway?

I think what shines through the most is the total dedication and hero-worship, perhaps even to the point of seeing Garland in an overly positive light. That in itself is normal from a fan-based point of view. In a way it helps to shed a light on what life must have been like for this superstar.

Imagine the pressure of having to perform every time you are in a room with someone who expects you to be the all-singing and all-dancing Garland. There is no room for Frances Gumm to exist. That must have been terribly consuming and tiresome. Not that stars don't enjoy the adulation and attention, but everyone deserves a modicum of privacy and the space to be themselves.

There is this scene Boyt describes when Meyer more or less dumps Garland on a waitress. A bit like someone dropping their grandma off at a care home. Boyt talks about how Margaret must have felt. How lucky she was to be in the position to take care of Judy and how empty she must have felt when Judy was gone. The problem with that is the fact Boyt sees it purely from the view of an avid fan and not necessarily from Judy's. I can imagine Garland felt like some annoyance, a second rate has-been the world no longer cares about.

The author has created an interesting conversation on fandom and adoration of the famous by mere mortals. When does adoration become obsession? When does it cross the line between just simple admiration and veer into creepy behaviour? Does living in the public arena give complete strangers the right to know every detail of your life. Does it give them the right to judge, ridicule or perhaps just drool and fawn over them? My answer to that is a firm no it doesn't.

It's part homage, part memoir and above all it is a conversation about celebrity and the people who appreciate and adore their talent.

Buy My Judy Garland Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Virago; pub date 19 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

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