3 out of 4 stars
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“Lucy was truly one of a kind. She was my sister, she was my mother, and she was my best friend. You’re only lucky to have one of these in your life. I was lucky it was Lucy. I did love Lucy, and Lucy loved me.”
Paula Stewart is an actress, film producer, and singer who shared a close friendship with Lucille Ball for over thirty years. When Stewart's agent sent her to audition for the part of Lucy's sister in Wildcat, the young star was so engrossed in her Broadway career, that she was unfamiliar with Lucille Ball and her hit television show. However, despite Stewart's initial disinterest in the role, Lucy selected her even though she was first passed over because she was "too much like Lucille Ball." As it was Lucy's debut in a Broadway musical, Stewart offered to help her with the songs, and they became friends. In Lucy Loved Me -- A Memoir, Stewart highlights their relationships and careers, as well as the friendship between the two women. Through Stewart's transitions from actress, producer, interior designer, real estate, and mother, the friendship remained constant. Lucy would eventually play the significant role of godmother to Stewart's son, Michael.
The grammatical editing of this 288-page was flawless. However, Stewart's writing segues weren't as seamless as her career transitions. In more than a few instances, she hooked me with an interesting memory without quite finishing the story and then shifted to an unrelated topic. For example, she recalled the time Lucy was recognized in a hospital elevator by a pregnant woman. When Stewart shared that the lady's water broke, just as she asked for Lucy's autograph, I for one, wanted to know what happened next. "It got even more surreal" didn't seem sufficient given the circumstances.
The portions of the book I liked most were those that focused on Stewart’s friendship with Lucy. The author candidly portrayed the mutual respect and admiration they felt for each other, as well as Lucy's protectiveness toward her, both in her relationships and career. Lucy frequently warned her about men who had reputations as womanizers; "You know, Paula, I met Desi in Too Many Girls and it ended with too many girls." In another instance, Lucy cautioned her against accepting a role for reasons she hadn't considered, which proved to be accurate. I also enjoyed the photographs the author included from her personal collection.
I disliked the inclusion of sexual innuendos, off-color jokes, and vulgar comments. Although there were times the author quoted others, many of the gratuitous references were hers. As humor is subjective, some readers may appreciate the lewd humor, while others may find it off-putting. However, the profanity, sexual references, and humor aren't suitable for young readers.
Due to the choppy writing style and gratuitous inuendos, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to fans of Lucille Ball, Paula Stewart, and memoirs. However, readers who dislike crude humor will prefer to pass on this one.
Lucy Loved Me
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