Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn
Usually, I don't read non-fiction and biographies are often iffy since you can never tell how much of it is true and how much is rumor or gossip. As for autobiographies, well, most non-writers with interesting lives usually need a ghostwriter, which often produce stilted and/or bombastic volumes. If they don't take a ghostwriter, they sound amateurish at best or boring at worst. Not so with "Me: Stories of My Life" by Katharine Hepburn.
Katharine Hepburn was my all-time favorite female actor in the world - if not my all-time favorite personality in general. When she passed away, I was devastated and knew I had to buy a book about her. After looking at what was on offer, I saw this book and thought it sounded different. Little did I know exactly how different it would be and what a marvelous choice I had made.
First, the writing style - in truth, this book is more like reading diary entries than reading an autobiography. One could even say that there are times when you might feel as if the amazing Kate was talking to you directly - at least I did. In fact, throughout most of the books I could hear her voice, see her smile and twinkle in her eyes. Mind you, sometimes this type of style can be a touch confusing, especially when recounting conversations. But with just a tiny bit of perseverance you'll get over that quite easily. If I had to sum her writing style in general, I'd say that it's human, realistic and highly conversational. Certainly there's nothing stand-offish or overly-intellectual in her writing.
The truth is, one might think that someone who came from such a high-class East Coast family, went to university (back when this wasn't a given for women), and then became a huge star of both stage and screen, you might expect a touch of snobbery. You must admit it takes no small amount of ego to undertake such a book, but this is totally not true for Kate. No, everything that Katharine Hepburn did and achieved, she took with a sense of humor and a grain of salt and with all due humility (sometimes more than she deserved). In fact, she points up her failures and mistakes far more than her successes. All this comes through in her book like gangbusters!
So what does she tell us? Of course, there's her early career, how she got into movies and her family and their influence on her. You'll be a touch surprised at what she has to say about some of her relationships - including the one she had with Howard Hughes (spoiler alert: it is absolutely nothing anywhere at all near what you saw between Cate Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Aviator"). She also includes accounts of some of the movies she both loved and hated, together with some lovely pictures.
Most importantly, what book about Hepburn would be complete if it didn't have something about Spenser Tracey? However, you'll read more about her feelings for this wonderful actor than about anything romantic, sexual or controversial.
This book is far more anecdotal than any straightforward account of Hepburn's life. Hence the title; it truly is a book of stories - told much as if you were having a friendly talk with the great lady herself while having a cup of coffee and a piece of cake (with chocolate ice cream, of course). If I had to sum this book up in one word, I'd say that word would be 'friendly.' Even the parts where she talks about difficulties she went through are accounted in a friendly way.
I highly recommend you make a friend of the late, great, Kate by reading this book. It is easy reading, with an enjoyable and approachable style and, above all, warm and inviting. Trust me on this one - you'll never regret it, I assure you, and I must give it a full five stars out of five! Bravo, Kate, you've kissed us again!
(The above review is a revised version of the one that originally appeared on Dooyoo under my username TheChocolateLady.)