Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Book Club: The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist


The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan

Book: The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist
Author: Michelle Morgan

With an in-depth look at the two most empowering years in the life of Marilyn Monroe, The Girl details how The Seven Year Itch created an icon and sent the star on an adventure of self-discovery and transformation from a controlled wife and contract player into a businesswoman and unlikely feminist whose power is still felt today.

When Marilyn Monroe stepped over a subway grating as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch and let a gust of wind catch the skirt of her pleated white dress, an icon was born. Before that, the actress was mainly known for a nude calendar and one-dimensional, albeit memorable, characters on the screen. Though she again played a "dumb blonde" in this film and was making headlines by revealing her enviable anatomy, the star was now every bit in control of her image, and ready for a personal revolution.

Emboldened by her winning fight to land the role of The Girl, the making of The Seven Year Itch and the eighteen months that followed was the period of greatest confidence, liberation, and career success that Monroe lived in her tumultuous life. It was a time in which, among other things, she:
  • Ended her marriage to Joe DiMaggio and later began a relationship with Arthur Miller;
  • Legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, divorcing herself from the troubled past of Norma Jeane; Started her own production company; Studied in private lessons with Lee and Paula Strasberg of the Actors Studio and became a part of the acting revolution of the day
  • The ripple effects her personal rebellion had on Hollywood, and in trailblazing the way for women that followed, will both surprise and inspire readers to see the Marilyn Monroe in an entirely new light.

What I have to say:
This was the May pick for my book club. The book was a bit hard to get into, and was at times hard to follow- the author would move around to different years. This book comes across more of a research book opposed to a biography on Marilyn. The 'thesis' being that Marilyn was a feminist before such a thing existed and the author uses known information (ex interviews, articles, etc) to prove this. This book covers a very specific part of Marilyn's life- where she is trying to leave the Hollywood star system, have more control over her career, and be taken as a serious actor. 


Final Verdict:
As someone who has studied the Hollywood Star System in University, I found this book interesting to learn more about Marilyn's personal experience with the System and what she did to reform her role in it. I think this book will be a disappointment for true Marilyn Monroe fans. Didn't hate it, but would only recommend it to people who have an interest in Film History, or are Marilyn Monroe fans who haven't read a lot about her. 


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