cover image Elizabeth


J. Randy Taraborrelli, . . Warner, $26.95 (548pp) ISBN 978-0-446-53254-9

Ordinarily, readers might question the logic of a new tome on a celebrity who already has at least six full-length biographies (and four self-penned books) devoted to her life, but Elizabeth Taylor has never been ordinary. Readers will easily understand why tabloids have chronicled her escapades for six decades: her roller-coaster life could easily read like a high-sheen soap opera (the eight marriages, two Oscars, suicide attempts and innumerable life-threatening illnesses that led to years of alcohol and prescription drug addiction before she became the first celebrity to check into the Betty Ford Clinic). But Taraborrelli, a sympathetic biographer, rescues the subject by looking for psychological and emotional motives behind her actions. Taraborrelli can be overprotective of Taylor (he notes her reviews for Cleopatra were "so vicious that they are not even worth memorializing here") but more often, he's a superb storyteller who is also an enthusiastic fan. The book is a fitting tribute to a woman who has lived and loved with abandon but who found real passion and purpose when she embraced AIDS activism in 1985, helping to destigmatize the disease and creating her own AIDS foundation. Taraborrelli's chatty prose (and bite-size chapters) perfectly complement Taylor's glamorous life of highs and lows to create an irresistible and inspiring tale. Photos not seen by PW . (Aug.)