Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein. Harper, $28.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-264135-9
Film documentarian Bernstein (Crescendo! The Power of Music), the oldest of three children of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, presents an in-depth, intimate view of her father, juxtaposed with her own upbringing in his shadow. Her memories can be jarringly candid at times: she recalls the superstar conductor on the toilet while smoking, perusing a score, and promising to be with her as soon as he finishes “this movement.” Bernstein brings readers from her father’s early conducting days at the New York Philharmonic to the creation of such hit musicals as West Side Story and Candide, as well as his failures, such as the legendary flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She depicts the family’s various homes (a country house in Fairfield, Conn.; a Park Avenue penthouse; an apartment in the Dakota building), as well as the famous people she met (Lauren Bacall, Jackie Kennedy, Stephen Sondheim, Lillian Hellman). Although the star-studded environment was stimulating, Bernstein longed for one-on-one time with a “normal” father. As a young adult, she grappled with the realization that her father was bisexual, unfaithful to her mother, and addicted to amphetamines. The larger-than-life maestro looms energetically over the family even after his death in 1990: all three children continued to work toward forwarding his legacy, either by organizing his archives or starting a newsletter for his fans. Bernstein paints a fascinating picture of the dizzying magic that Leonard Bernstein brought to his music—and the complexity to his home life. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-264137-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-284841-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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