Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sorel does a wonderful job of bringing lots of Mary Astor’s life that most people won’t know about to the forefront and building up why she became the woman became—multiple marriages to deadbeat men, an alcoholic, never really thinking herself good enough, desperate for salvation that wouldn’t come, and when she felt it was there, wouldn’t last. Sorel’s humor makes this book shine brightly, and I just loved what it added to the whole experience.
The color illustrations by Sorel in the hardcover edition were wonderful and added a whimsical feel to the book.
All of that being said, I read this book for Mary Astor, not really for Edward Sorel, so sometimes his parts about himself bored me to tears while other times his parts were interesting. I docked the book a star for the boring parts of his. Mary’s parts were never boring, so he’s absolutely capable of writing in a captivating way, even about the mundane, he just didn’t always succeed in that for his own sections.
If you’re looking for a biography of Mary Astor (this book includes A LOT more than just the purple diary and how they were used in court) with plenty of wit and wonderful revelations about her, this is it. Just know going in that there are a bunch of parts also about the author, his life, and his interest in Mary Astor.