Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt as part of the Random Things Tour.
An irresistible mixture of memoir, biography, cultural analysis, experiment and hero-worship about one person’s enduring fascination. This is for anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.
Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt’s world since she was three years old; comforting, inspiring and, at times, disturbing her. In this unique book Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero-worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame.
Layering key episodes from Garland’s life with defining moments from her own, Boyt demands with insight and humour, what it means, exactly, to adore someone you don’t know. Need hero worship be a pursuit that’s low in status or can it be performed with pride and style? Are there similarities that lie at the heart of all fans? And what is the proper husbandry of a twenty first century obsession, anyway?
‘When Judy sang to me as I grew older she seemed to confirm things that I’d all my life held to be true:’
* Things that are hard have more of life at their heart than things that are easy.
* All feelings, however painful, are to be prized.
* Glamour is a moral stance.
* The world is crueller and more wonderful than anyone ever says.
* Loss, its memory and its anticipation, lies at the heart of human experience.
* Any human situation, however deadly, can be changed, turned round and improved beyond
recognition on any given day, in one minute, in one hour.
* You must try to prepare for the moment that you’re needed for the call could come at any time.
* There are worse things in life than being taken for a ride.
* If you have a thin skin all aspects of life cost more and have more value.
* Loyalty to one other is preferable to any other kind of human system.
* Grief is no real match for the human heart, which is an infinitely resourceful organ.
Judy Garland was a big part of my life growing up and I didn’t even realise it. I adored The Wizard of Oz and even now as a woman in my mid-forties I still adore watching that movie. How magical it seemed. Can you imagine how it must have felt to have gone to see it in glorious colour for the first time in the cinemas? How could she have been anything but a star!? Even so I still can’t pretend to know too much about her at all. I know she was married several times, had a daughter called Liza and had a stunning singing voice and was loved by many. I also know that Jane Horrocks did a stunning imitation of her in the 1998 film, Little Voice. I’ve always been intrigued though and have felt that she was something very, very special.
My Judy Garland life has brought me so much closer to Judy (she actually had three children!) and the thing that I find so incredible is that the author is someone who never met her but has felt a lifelong connection with her. The impact that Judy has had on Susie’s life is incredibly moving and I think it is wonderful how this woman who gave so much of herself for her adoring fans and who had so much hardship in her own life, is still able to make such a difference to someone in the struggles and joy of life. After all this is not just a book about Judy, it is also a memoir and closer look at life. Susie is a beautiful author and not only does she bring Judy Garland to life but she also touched me with her own story. When I began reading it felt a little strange. ‘This woman is clearly obsessed’ I thought to myself and yet within just a few pages I felt I had harshly judged and knew that actually this is a very unique book and a complete celebration of how one person can touch and inspire another in their lifetime. An absolute joy to read.
About the author
Susie Boyt was born in London and educated at Camden School for Girls and Oxford University. After a nerve-racking stint in a lingerie boutique and an alarming spell working in PR for Red Stripe lager and the Brixton Academy, she settled down to writing and is the author of six acclaimed novels including The Last Hope of Girls, which was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Only Human, which was short-
listed for the Mind Award. Of her last novel, Love & Fame The Sunday Times said
‘she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist.’
Susie wrote a much-loved weekly column about life and art for the Financial Times Weekend for fourteen years and still contributes regularly to their books and fashion
pages. Last year she edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories for Penguin Classics. Susie is also a director at the Hampstead theatre in London and works part time for Cruse Bereavement Care.
She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She is the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud and the great grand-daughter of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.