Friday, April 1, 2011

Postmortem Review

Publisher's Summary. Sadly, some lives cannot be understood until after death. So it was with Anne Ford. A successful, charming beauty queen, model, and fashion designer during the 1950s, this glamour girl about town was poisoned by internal demons and the permissive Southern California culture of the 1960s and 70s. She ended her life as an alcoholic street person, stabbed and strangled in a burned-out building in West Hollywood. Years later, her daughter, the writer Laurel Saville, began the long process of unraveling the twin trajectories of this unusual life.

Postmortem takes the reader on an emotionally charged journey that ranges from Saville’s eccentric West Hollywood childhood, to a top-secret, Depression-era airplane design. Whether describing the artists of the seminal Sunset Strip gallery where Andy Warhol got his start or the hippie parties at the legendary Barney’s Beanery, Saville’s distinctive prose lends insight into the events and emotions that surrounded the life and death of stunning Anne Ford. This candid exploration of one woman’s life and death ends up exposing unexpected truths about both mother and daughter and unscrambling the many webs that entangled Ford’s exceptional life.

Review. Losing a parent is never easy. Because with mom or dad’s passing goes all the shared memories of happy times past. But what if there were no happy memories because mom was a self-absorbed and neglectful alcoholic? And what if later, an unstable and homeless mom is murdered by another unstable transient? How does one mourn that kind of loss?

Over two decades after her mother’s homicide, Laura Saville embarks on a journey to discover the mother she never really knew. As Saville confesses, “ Of all the recorded versions of my mother, there was only one I recognized from my own experience: the failed fashion designer, the hippie hanging onto a utopian dream, the woman who refused to let go of her youth and step up to responsibilities. But she was so many other things, before that, before me.”

In the 50’s -60’s Saville’s mother, Anne Ford, seemed to do it all: beauty queen, model and fashion designer. She even briefly dated Marlon Brando. In a few short years, however, Ford, herself a victim of an unhappy childhood, developed an addiction to alcoholic and squandered it all indulging in the “hippie lifestyle” of parties every night, hangovers the next day, and no time for work.

Caught in Ford’s downward spiral were Saville and her brother. Saville learns to escape into schooling, survive a chaotic home environment, and live without a mother’s love. One of the memoir’s saddest moments, occurs after Saville falls out of her childhood bed with her mother rushing to comfort her. The next day, Saville profusely thanks her only to be told by Ford that it never happened -- it was only a dream.

Postmortem is a remarkably well- written, candid, memoir that explores a tragic life of lost opportunities.

Courtesy copy provided thanks to the publicist.


  1. Nice review. Sounds like an emotional journey

  2. Wow, sounds like a really engaging book! It's sad that sometimes it takes someone being gone before we really understand what they were about.


  3. Oooh, I love memoirs and this does sound like a good one!

  4. Okay, I'm all about a great memoir, so this book is going on my list. Thanks for the review!

  5. Sounds like such a tragic life. I'm not sure if I could read about it.

  6. Adding this one to my reading list. Sounds like a heavy read with a life retrospect by the daughter. That had to be the hardest thing to do. I hope she discovered some release from the pain. Bravo on her and impressed by her courage to write this one.

  7. This is a new one for me Kim. Sounds like a great memoir.

  8. How sad to grow up without a mother's love. I enjoyed reading your review.

  9. Thanks for this lovely review. I so appreciate the support of book bloggers. Just FYI, the book has been picked up by Amazon's publishing arm and will be re-released this Fall as "Unraveling Anne." For more info and sample chapters in the meantime, feel free to check my website, Many, many thanks, again.

    Laurel Saville