Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives by Marie Clayton

Publishing Information:
Title – Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives
Author – Marie Clayton
Publisher – Parragon, Inc.
Date Published - 2009
# of pages - 384

Genres & Themes:  Non-fiction, Biography, Photography, Celebrities, Film & Entertainment, Reference

Stats: –  92 Ratings, 4.30 Average Rating – 6 Customer reviews, 5.0ish Average Rating

Plot Summary:
Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives charts Marilyn's fascinating life, from her unhappy childhood, through her years as a superstar, to her tragic and untimely death in 1962. The collection of photographs documents the important events in her life: her early years, her movies, her marriages to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, her battles with the studio and her decline in health. They not only include movie stills and portraits, but also many other less well known pictures taken during her career. The photographs are accompanied by detailed and informative captions, which give a rounded portrait of one of the world's greatest movie stars. –Goodreads description


* This is what most people would call a “coffee-table” book in size and content.

What I thought:
Starting out 2011 and looking through my “read” list to see which books I missed reviewing last year I was surprised to find out that this one missed any comments from me. Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives was one of my top three favourite books in 2010 so I am here to rectify it’s neglect immediately!

This is a book I settled on after deciding I needed to read more biographies of famous “culturally significant” people. I didn’t know anything about Marilyn Monroe (hadn’t even seen any of her movies) and wanted to see what it was about her that so captivated people when she was alive. I wasn’t sure what books were out there but when I picked this one up I knew it would be perfect. Not knowing anything about her, I knew I would be missing out big time if I didn’t read a biography with photos included.

Marie Clayton has done a stunning job with her biography. Each chapter starts out with a summary of a period in Marilyn’s life. She explains what was going on in her personal life (family, relationships, and career) and then dives into more specifics with the photo captions. And what photos! Marilyn certainly knew how to strike a pose and the photographers certainly knew how to take advantage of her charisma. I was captivated by her immediately just with the opening couple of pages. Then reading the captions and getting to know the context behind these photos certainly kept me captivated.

But even though I credit much of my love for this book in the photography chosen here, what really makes this book shine is the love for Marilyn that comes through so brightly in Clayton’s words. She gives a wonderful portrayal of a person’s life. Marilyn was not just a star but also a real life human that deserved the world’s love. Not just because of that stardom but because of that humanity. From what I have read, Ms. Monroe had a really tough life and I really appreciated the beauty of what Clayton has done for Marilyn here.

In conclusion: stunning photography, fascinating life, beautiful woman, thoughtful biographer. I would not read another biography any other way!

Recommended to: Everyone! More specifically, celebrity and biography buffs.

Where you can purchase this book:
I bought my copy last summer (2010) from the bargain tables at Chapters. You can check back there or look online. Copies are available at for $8.99

Add this book to your Goodreads list or read more reviews:

Go to the Goodreads Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives page.

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