When I was in grade seven, many story-times ago, a boy whom I confided in as a good friend unexpectedly told me that he loved me. At an age where we were all just beginning to discover our own feelings, identity, and independence I naturally cringed and dismissed him by asking him, “Do you even know what love is?” My response must have provoked him because the next morning stuck on my locker was a three-page letter that included the dictionary’s definition of love.
I think the best thing about love is there isn’t a right way. Even when it’s wrong it’s beautiful. Love can be as light as a cup of coffee or as grave as death. It’s something so private and so public; so delusional and so real; so sweet and so bitter; so free and so costly; so safe and so dangerous. I truly believe that it conquers all. And Gloria Vanderbilt’s romance memoir It Seemed Important at the Time is the perfect living proof to these endless, polarized versions of love.
Vanderbilt is 90 years old this year but she has a youthful spirit (and appearance) of a gal-pal next door. She had a countless number of affairs, boyfriends, and one-night-stands — between (and during) four of her marriages — with society’s most highly recognized men. Affairs with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Howard Hughes, and Roald Dahl to name a few. “There is no real point in regretting. I embrace it all: the pain, the pleasure, the drama, the disappointments.” Of course she had a soul mate, Wyatt Cooper, whom she keeps close to her heart still since his death in 1978. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure to read her life, a life that had made headlines in Hollywood since her childhood. But Vanderbilt has absolutely no guilt in the pleasures she’s indulged in. She’s loves fiercely and daringly.
She has been tragically heartbroken, physically beaten, suddenly betrayed, and divorced multiple times but even with the fragility of love, Vanderbilt continues to believe in life with love. “We are all part of the mysterious, unknown energy, part of the never-ending cycle of life and death. No matter how bleak things may seem, it’s necessary only to breath in and out. After all, tomorrow may be the day you fall in love with a tree, a flower, a face you see passing by in a taxi.”
The memoir is consoling, entertaining, candid, and refreshing. The book will end with you feeling like her new best friend.
dee’s recommendation: 4/5