cover image Leaving a Doll's House: A Memoir

Leaving a Doll's House: A Memoir

Claire Bloom. Little Brown and Company, $23.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-316-09980-6

In 1982, English actress Claire Bloom (b. 1931) published a memoir, Limelight and After, that focused on her professional achievements. This second memoir reveals her personal life. ""Now,"" she writes, ""all the factors have altered, and I am free to tell my story in full."" Bloom invests the first half of her narrative with a plainspoken eloquence as she recounts her difficult childhood in London, Florida and New York, and as she writes of her affairs with a series of dashing but unreliable men--including Richard Burton and Yul Brynner--with regret but genuine affection. The heart of the book, though, and no doubt its main selling point, is Bloom's long and bitterly angry account of her 18-year relationship--including a marriage--with Philip Roth, who is portrayed here as a brilliant monster, inventively cruel and manipulative. His seductiveness, writes Bloom, ""wasn't charm; it was intelligence."" By the end of their relationship, Bloom sees him as a ""game-playing, Machiavellian strategist."" Roth may nor may not have had it coming, but Bloom's hundred-page aria of ire makes for uncomfortable reading in any case. It seems a genuine cri de coeur, howver, voiced with the sensitivity that distinguishes the rest of this earnest soulful autobiography. Photos not seen by PW. Major ad/promo. (Oct.)