Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman

Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Biography, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Born Archibald Leach in 1904, he came to America as a teenaged acrobat to find fame and fortune, but he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was eleven years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was thirty-one years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs.

Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as Gunga Din, Notorious, and North by Northwest.
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Drawing on Grant’s own papers, extensive archival research, and interviews with family and friends, this is the definitive portrait of a movie immortal.

If there’s ever been a book written about Cary Grant, it only scratches the surface compared to this one.

I thought I knew a bit about Archie Leach, aka Cary Grant. He’s aloof, he’s sensual, but he’s also very GQ. Right? That’s him? I had no idea how much he struggled with his self-esteem, only to end up being rather full of himself. He could be quite generous, but also off-putting in his stinginess. He loved his friends dearly, but only had a few friends. He was the ultimate romantic, trying to find the right one…all while not being entirely sure what he wanted in that right one.

He’s a complicated man, but what really stuck with me about Cary Grant was him trying so hard to impress his mother, the woman who left him to be raised by his father. He wanted nothing more than to make her happy. Bought her houses, cars, made sure someone took care of her, but he never quite measured up to what she wanted and what he thought she wanted of him. Honestly, it was the most relatable thing in the book. I can understand not measuring up to what my mother thinks I should be and how I try only to fail quite a bit–like he did.

If you’re looking for a book that’s unflinching in it’s honesty and covers almost all of Grant’s life, then this might be the book you’re looking for. Be prepared–it’s a long book, so buckle in for the wild ride.

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