BOOKS: Feminist Perspective on Life of Tragic Screen Icon

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHONY LOOCH

The many lives of marilyn monroe, by sarah churchwell, granta books, pounds 18.99 (hardback)

MARILYN Monroe shares with Diana, Princess of Wales, a potent combination of photogenic beauty and private tragedy which has made them both into secular icons, whose memories are likely to be raked over for many decades to come.

This erudite book, which at times reads like a university thesis, is not a conventional biography.

It analyses much contradictory material that others have written and comes up with interesting, sometimes contentious, conclusions.

The author's seemingly feminist approach leads her into " defending" Marilyn against perfectly valid criticism by people who knew and worked with the temperamental and unreliable star.

Although abused and exploited by men, Marilyn was frequently her own worst enemy.

It is not surprising that she had psychological problems, considering her appalling childhood, but the basic cause of her increasingly erratic behaviour must surely have been her alcoholism and drug addiction. …