Barbara Victor, Author . HarperCollins $26 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-019930-2

Even if it weren't competing head-to-head with two other Madonna biographies by titans in their fields (J. Randy Taraborrelli's Madonna: An Intimate Biography and Andrew Morton's Madonna), this overstuffed and plodding chronicle of the ever-morphing entertainer is sure to try the patience of most fans. Using the filming of Evita as a touchstone, Victor ceaselessly links much in Madonna's life to the struggle to make that film. Unconvinced readers may suspect the heavy emphasis is merely because Victor was in Argentina when the filming began in 1996 and at that point she decided to pen Madonna's life story. The lion's share of the tome is devoted to the pre-celebrity life of Madonna Louise Ciccone, the third of eight children raised in a large traditional Italian household in Michigan. Her mother died of breast cancer when Madonna was only six years old, leaving a void and obsession that both haunted and drove the future star toward her desire to be a dancer and then a singer and actress. Victor's erratic continuity will be a challenge for fans who like linear biographies. Although the author focuses on Madonna's life in New York before the release of her first album in 1983, numerous incidents provoke Victor to push readers decades forward and back with dizzying effect. Madonna has obligingly provided a storybook happy ending, with the Material Girl now happily married (to director Guy Ritchie) and a mother of two, living in the U.K. (Nov. 6)

Forecast:Fans not already sated by Taraborrelli's fast-moving, admiring account may skip this one and wait for Morton's higher-profile release also in November.

Reviewed on: 11/05/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-06-103113-7
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-230690-6
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