three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
17-July-Aug-2005
By: 
Jane Fonda
user_rating: 
0

A-MyLifeSoFArJane Fonda answers to many titles: Oscar-winning actress, workout queen, sex symbol, "Hanoi Jane," and a passionate (if occasionally misguided) activist. Now 67, she reveals in her memoir the motivation behind her chameleon-like activities. Fonda shares secrets from childhood, intimate details of her three marriages, and her new eco-feminist faith in Christ. She battled bulimia, cheating husbands, her mother’s mental illness, her father’s coldness, and an often-overpowering sense of inadequacy. There’s a lot of ground to cover here. Luckily, with over 600 pages to work with, she packs it all in.
Random House. 624 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0375507108

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"My Life So Far is perhaps the most frank memoir by a seminal cultural figure in modern memory. Fonda possesses a raw and affecting candor, sharing everything from personal failings to perhaps more bodily functions than necessary."
Karen Heller

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… an intimate, haunting book that might as well be catnip from its ever controversial author. There is the sense that Ms. Fonda is being as honest as she knows how, which is to say selectively." Janet Maslin

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… fatteningly rich, frequently maddening but unexpectedly quite moving. … In addition to herself (whom we get to know almost too well), her father and all three of her ex-husbands emerge as noble, flawed, idiosyncratic, forgivable human beings." David Kipen

Houston Chronicle 3 of 5 Stars
"As celebrity books go, this is a good one. … Fonda’s life is a Rorschach test of the late 20th century, with society’s major themes playing out through her actions." Clifford Pugh

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"That sense of oneself as red-hot center of the universe is pretty hard to stomach, and there’s a good deal of it ..." Jonathan Yardley

Detroit Free Press 2 of 5 Stars
"Virtually unapologetic and ever ready with an excuse, only near the end of her life has she encountered the introspection that many others find much earlier." John Smyntek

Critical Summary

Jane Fonda is certainly a fascinating character. And, most of the time, her autobiography proves equally fascinating. Her on-the-set character studies of fellow actors are a joy, as is Fonda’s thorough examination of her own weaknesses and failings. Her poignant analysis of her relationship with her distant father, Henry Fonda, and suicidal mother touched critics. There are also times, as all critics noted, when her earnestness and self-absorption become cloying. Her writing wavers between catchy and mediocre; but this inconsistency, critics say, disproves the rumors of a ghostwriter. All in all, by the end of My Life so Far, Fonda emerges as a sympathetic and important force—in her own life and in others as well.