REVIEW: The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe (104)

Title: The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe
Author: Sandi Gelles-Cole
Pages: 178
ISBN: 978-0978662134


(Taken from
Sandi Gelles-Cole imagines the life the screen legend and enduring cultural icon might have led — from the opening scene (below) to her 85th birthday on June 1.

DRAMA QUEEN June 1, 2011 They say only the good die young and I guess it s true because I m still here. Today is my eighty fifth birthday. During these years I have lived three lives: Before Marilyn, Being Marilyn and After. I created Marilyn Monroe and then men molded her: studios, agents, and husbands. Ever since the night I did not die, I have tried to leave her behind, but wherever I went, the creature followed. I tried to run. I tried changing my name, my country of residence, my hair color, body type, career and sexual preference. I went to college for coursework in Humanities and studied Russian Literature. But there was no escaping her. The character I created became my own personal monster and devoured me in the 50s, and even after she died I could no more be someone else than I could grow a penis, change my skin color, or stop being a movie star. My so-called death scene is always described the same: My housekeeper, Eunice Murray, finds my wasted, naked body tangled in a sheet, wet from secretions better left unexplained. I am face down with one hand hanging over the telephone. This detail is discussed often; am I answering a call or making one and if I am calling, then whom? But it did not happen that way. I cheated death. . .


When I was approached to review this book, I was incredibly excited. I love Marilyn Monroe and not just because I am related to her (well, by marriage thanks to Joe DiMaggio) but because she is an icon. The synopsis of the story sounded amazing. I could not wait to read what Marilyn may have done with the rest of her life. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

The book itself is short with only 178 pages and paired with the size 18-20 font that it uses (and not a professional typeface) it can easily be shrunk down to about 100 pages, or less. On the cover it is said to only be “edited” by Sandi Gelles Cole, which I think is disrespectful. I understand that it’s a fictional memoir however I think it should be made quite clear on the cover that it is a fictionalmemoir. I can imagine someone purchasing this book thinking they were actually reading a memoir written by Marilyn, only to feel duped by it’s misleading cover. On the back is just information about Sandi Gelles-Cole and by information I mean “ridiculous bragging”.

The thing about bragging about your professional history on the cover is that you really need true talent and skills to back it up. Otherwise it just takes away your credibility.  With the misleading cover and unprofessional font style and sizing, it is no wonder that the author had to self publish and print her own novel. No one else would have touched it. The sad thing is, I haven’t even discussed the meat of the story, yet.

When I think of Marilyn, I think of elegance and grace. I also do not think she would have written her memoir in such a simplistic, juvenile, superficial way. This is supposed to be about her life (fictional, but still it should have been believable); not a half-assed account of things she did after her “death”. The way it was written was as if someone was trying to vaguely recall something they had no real recollection of; like trying to remember the events of a drunken evening and everything is hazy. The way Gelles-Cole jumped from event to event was exhausting and I felt that I had no real understanding of the purpose of the events I just read. To say that details lacked would be an understatement.

The quality of the writing was horrific. Sentences were incomplete and jumbled and all around messy. For example:

I spoke to Sue, Paula, other people who knew the principals involved. Talking to Jules about any of this didn’t feel right until I had processed the, alright, consequences of the decision. Anyway he was so busy working that was never around to talk to. – pg. 170

Can you spot all the errors? (I would never hire Gelles-Cole to edit my work after reading a book of paragraphs like this.) So if you recalled from earlier in the review I said that it was important not to brag about your abilities unless you could back it up. Now do you understand?

Overall I felt that the book was an insulting fictional account of the wonderful woman that was Marilyn Monroe. If you’re a true Marilyn Monroe fan, stay away from this “Memoir” as it will only make you mad.

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  1. Marce says

    Oh for peats sakes, 😡 thanks for this honest review, I think I would have been pissed off with it actually. I am a Marilyn fan and really want to read a memoir but have stayed away because I want it to be real and add to her reputation I have of her.I won’t buy this.

  2. Keneth says

    As every book reviewer knows, an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) such as you received is an uncorrected proof prepared in advance of publication solely for reviewers and distributors, and solely concerned with content. Your ARC is clearly identified as such in the front cover copy, and this fact is reiterated on the cover sheet that accompanied it. You surely must be aware that design, formatting, cover copy, and, of course, typos in an ARC have no relation to the finished book. This has been the practice in publishing (and book reviewing) for generations. It is unfortunate that you did not make this clear to your readers, and that you were commenting on such matters as cover copy, design elements, formatting, typos, etc. that are outside of the realm and purposes of an ARC.

    As for the story itself, well, it’s unfortunate it didn’t work for you. Others, however, might be interested in the very different reactions of such readers as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, an award-winning fiction writer, a best selling memoirist, and so on.

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