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This title in other editions

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright

by

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright Cover

ISBN13: 9780312424923
ISBN10: 0312424922
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1957, a children's book called The Lonely Doll was published. With its pink-and-white-checked cover and photographs featuring a wide-eyed doll, it captured the imaginations of young girls and made the author, Dare Wright, a household name.

Close to forty years after its publication, the book was out of print but not forgotten. When the cover image inexplicably came to journalist Jean Nathan one afternoon, she went in search of the book — and ultimately its author. Nathan found Dare Wright living out her last days in a decrepit public hospital in Queens, New York.

Over the next five years, Nathan pieced together a glamorous life. Blond, beautiful Wright had begun her career as an actress and model and then turned to fashion photography before stumbling upon her role as bestselling author. But there was a dark side to the story: a brother lost in childhood, ill-fated marriage plans, a complicated, controlling mother. Edith Stevenson Wright, herself a successful portrait painter, played such a dominant role in her daughter's life that Dare was never able to find her way into the adult world. Only through her work could she speak for herself: in her books she created the happy family she'd always yearned for, while her self-portraits betrayed an unresolved tension between sexuality and innocence, a desire to belong and painful isolation.

Illustrated with stunning photographs, The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll tells the unforgettable story of a woman who, imprisoned by her childhood, sought to set herself free through art.

Review:

"In 1957, The Lonely Doll made model/actress turned author/photographer Dare Wright famous. The children's book told the story of Edith, a lonely doll until two teddy bears — a father and son — come to live with her. This dark and painfully poignant biography, tells the story of the beautiful and creative Dare (1914 — 2001), who was separated from her own father and brother when she was three. Alone with her strong-willed, manipulative mother, Edie, Dare strove to please her, Nathan writes, 'playing handmaiden to Edie's queen as Edie created their own private universe' of dressup and pretend. Their closeness becomes increasingly disturbing, keeping Dare a child even as she matures into womanhood. There's a suggestion by some who knew them of a sexual element in the relationship, but Nathan is careful not to speculate. With Edie's death near the end of the book the story loses some of its clarity, because despite having many friends, Dare doesn't know how to live without her mother; the downward spiral of her final years is horrifying yet incomprehensible. But this is a quibble, and doesn't detract from the fascinating and elusive girl/woman at the center of this story. Photos. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept. 2) FYI: The Lonely Doll and two of its sequels have been reissued by Houghton Mifflin." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Most artists lead idiosyncratic existences, but few are stranger than that of Dare Wright, a beautiful and poignantly lost soul. With painstaking resolve, Jean Nathan has captured this elusive creature and, with compassion and empathy, brought her back to life. Her biography of Wright is a haunting tale, skillfully told." Mark Singer, author of Somewhere in America and staff writer for the New Yorker

Review:

"Jean Nathan has given us a haunting portrait of a haunted and heartbreaking creative life. Here is proof, if ever any was needed, that the children's books that last are those born not of lovely thoughts but of childhood's innermost necessities." Leonard S. Marcus, author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon

Review:

"Jean Nathan's biography of The Lonely Doll author Dare Wright is thoroughly engrossing, and fans of the series will want to read her terrific — and terrifically disturbing — life story." David Kipen, San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"A beguiling piece of detective work, which itself makes for a kind of fairy tale." Stacy Schiff, author of Vera

Review:

"An evocative, amazing biography." Jacki Lyden, author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba

Review:

"Reads like a novel, and a Gothic one at that, full of outsized characters, an evocatively drawn backdrop, and with a strange and compelling mystery at its heart." Meg Wolitzer, author of The Wife

Review:

"Although I never read The Lonely Doll as a child or saw Dare Wright's photographs, it's as if somehow I did. Nathan has done an amazing job to capture Wright's life on the page and to bring us into the household of one of the saddest dysfunctional families ever." Cindy Sherman

Synopsis:

In 1957, a childrens book called The Lonely Doll was published. With its pink-and-white-checked cover and photographs featuring a wide-eyed doll, it captured the imaginations of young girls and made the author, Dare Wright, a household name. Close to forty years after its publication, the book was out of print but not forgotten. When the cover image inexplicably came to journalist Jean Nathan one afternoon, she went in search of the book--and ultimately its author. Nathan found Dare Wright living out her last days in a decrepit public hospital in Queens, New York. Over the next five years, Nathan pieced together Dare Wrights bizarre life of glamour and painful isolation to create this mesmerizing biography of a woman who struggled to escape the imprisonment of her childhood through her art.

About the Author

Jean Nathan was educated at Williams College and the Columbia School of Journalism. She was a staff writer for The New York Observer and a senior editor at Connoisseur magazine. She has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Travel & Leisure, Vogue, ARTNews, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Renee Anderson, July 16, 2008 (view all comments by Renee Anderson)
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to believe that Dare Wright was a fascinating, dark, and creepy person, based on the reviews and on her weird children's books. However, having slogged through it, I feel cheated. The author, Jean Nathan, obviously struggled in telling this story, and granted, it is a difficult story to tell given the lack of data and living relatives and friends. But in lieu of having a real story, Jean just gives a bunch of filler, details that don't mean anything in the bigger picture of Dare's life, and that actually muddy and taint the story. Chop out about 50 pages of inconsequential facts and the book would read much better.

Example: Dare and her mother Edie rented a 4-door Renault on their trip to France in the 70's. Did they crash in it? No. Did they steal it and run off to Russia? No. It's a single sentence of nothingness that lends nothing to Dare's story. This type of filler just makes the book frustrating to read.

Overall, I came out of this feeling empty about Dare Wright. She had a strange relationship with her mother and some bad childhood trauma that affected her deeply, both of which manifested through her books. What percentage of people could say the same thing, sans being an author? It's nothing special, and the author did nothing in her writing to make me think otherwise.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312424923
Author:
Nathan, Jean
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Crosswords - General
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Children's Literature - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes halftones throughout
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.24 x 5.54 x 0.805 in

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Related Subjects


Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Children's » Authors and Illustrators » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Books on Books
Young Adult » Nonfiction » Biographies

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Picador USA - English 9780312424923 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1957, The Lonely Doll made model/actress turned author/photographer Dare Wright famous. The children's book told the story of Edith, a lonely doll until two teddy bears — a father and son — come to live with her. This dark and painfully poignant biography, tells the story of the beautiful and creative Dare (1914 — 2001), who was separated from her own father and brother when she was three. Alone with her strong-willed, manipulative mother, Edie, Dare strove to please her, Nathan writes, 'playing handmaiden to Edie's queen as Edie created their own private universe' of dressup and pretend. Their closeness becomes increasingly disturbing, keeping Dare a child even as she matures into womanhood. There's a suggestion by some who knew them of a sexual element in the relationship, but Nathan is careful not to speculate. With Edie's death near the end of the book the story loses some of its clarity, because despite having many friends, Dare doesn't know how to live without her mother; the downward spiral of her final years is horrifying yet incomprehensible. But this is a quibble, and doesn't detract from the fascinating and elusive girl/woman at the center of this story. Photos. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept. 2) FYI: The Lonely Doll and two of its sequels have been reissued by Houghton Mifflin." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Most artists lead idiosyncratic existences, but few are stranger than that of Dare Wright, a beautiful and poignantly lost soul. With painstaking resolve, Jean Nathan has captured this elusive creature and, with compassion and empathy, brought her back to life. Her biography of Wright is a haunting tale, skillfully told."
"Review" by , "Jean Nathan has given us a haunting portrait of a haunted and heartbreaking creative life. Here is proof, if ever any was needed, that the children's books that last are those born not of lovely thoughts but of childhood's innermost necessities."
"Review" by , "Jean Nathan's biography of The Lonely Doll author Dare Wright is thoroughly engrossing, and fans of the series will want to read her terrific — and terrifically disturbing — life story."
"Review" by , "A beguiling piece of detective work, which itself makes for a kind of fairy tale."
"Review" by , "An evocative, amazing biography."
"Review" by , "Reads like a novel, and a Gothic one at that, full of outsized characters, an evocatively drawn backdrop, and with a strange and compelling mystery at its heart."
"Review" by , "Although I never read The Lonely Doll as a child or saw Dare Wright's photographs, it's as if somehow I did. Nathan has done an amazing job to capture Wright's life on the page and to bring us into the household of one of the saddest dysfunctional families ever."
"Synopsis" by ,
In 1957, a childrens book called The Lonely Doll was published. With its pink-and-white-checked cover and photographs featuring a wide-eyed doll, it captured the imaginations of young girls and made the author, Dare Wright, a household name. Close to forty years after its publication, the book was out of print but not forgotten. When the cover image inexplicably came to journalist Jean Nathan one afternoon, she went in search of the book--and ultimately its author. Nathan found Dare Wright living out her last days in a decrepit public hospital in Queens, New York. Over the next five years, Nathan pieced together Dare Wrights bizarre life of glamour and painful isolation to create this mesmerizing biography of a woman who struggled to escape the imprisonment of her childhood through her art.

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