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Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
The Memory of All That
It is always entertaining to read about the lives of the rich and famous, and the book did not disappoint in this regard. It was somewhat difficult to get into the first part of the book which was mainly about her despicable father. It was amazing to me that the author was able to give a reasonably sympathetic telling of his exploits. I found the second half of the book, about her mother's family, much more interesting. I have always been a huge George Gershwin fan, and particularly enjoyed reading about his relationship with Weber's grandmother, Kay Swift. I had not known previously that she was such an accomplished musician. It is a shame that she has received so little credit for her accomplishments.
Janet S. (Great Neck Library, NY)
Riveting and Sad Memoir
The rich and famous truly ARE different. In this charmingly told, evocative page-turner, Weber recounts the complex truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale of her parents' and grandparents' marriages and extra-marital relationships. The author unblinkingly examines both the good and the extremely difficult times in the intense relationship between her grandmother Kay Swift and her married grandmother's long-time lover George Gershwin, as well as what it was like to live as a member of an illustrious yet troubled American Jewish family.
Sharon P. (Jacksonville, FL)
The Memory of All That
The subtitle says a lot about the story: "George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities". Though not always a happy one, this is a fascinating story with a large cast of unusual, and often well known, characters. Katharine Weber gives us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the entertainers of a bygone era. A really good read.
Philip K. (San Anselmo, Ca)
The Memory Of All That starts slowly focusing at first on the authors' father,a second rate producer and movie director and first rate cheat who ignored his family. The story takes off when the focus shifts to the authors mothers' family, the Warburgs, grandfather Paul and his wife Kay Swift,a song writer and lover of George Gershwin . At this point the story of this menage becomes at once moving and ultimately tragic ending with the inexcusable death of Gershwin at the hands of his physicians who misdiagnosed a tumor which eventually killed this great American musical genius. The story is replete with wonderful characters, dysfunctional families and the magic years in New York between the two world wars. A wonderful piece of entertainment.
Carole A. (Denver, CO)
I'll try not to remember
I'm always excited to read a new book and almost always read it straight thru. I picked this one up and put it down and repeated the process three times. Finally made myself sit and read to the end. The memory of George Gershwin is not one I expected. As a "tell all" I wasn't particularly interested in the other "all's". In my opinion this was a great exercise in therapy for Ms. Weber but not a particularly interesting read for those who are not familiar with the rest of the players. In this day and age infidelities, unfortunately, are not all that unusual or interesting. While I am a frequent supplier of books to several reading groups as well as family and friends - this book will not be the only one from Book Browse that will not be suggested ... there will be no memory - of all that.
Gwendolyn D. (Houston, TX)
An entertaining family memoir
I really enjoyed this family memoir. I picked up the book because of it's content on George Gershwin, one of my favorite musicians. I was thrilled to find that the book covers so many more interesting people than just Gershwin. There's Kay Swift, who was Gershwin's lover and also a talented composer and pianist, and James Paul Warburg, FDR’s economic adviser, and many others. History buffs, especially those with an interest in the arts and music, will enjoy this well-written memoir.
Pepper E. (Lawrenceville, NJ)
No memory of all that
I received an Early Review copy of this book.
Nona F. (Evanston, IL)
Not as Advertised
Disclaimer: I did not read the entire book
While not a society/gossip/People Magazine reader, I do love a memoir that tells the childhood of the famous or the infamous.
I was brought up with show tunes on the record player and on the radio, so I was attracted to Katherine Swift's memoir because she is almost exactly my age, mid fifties, and expected to have lived a somewhat parallel life.
I was disappointed enough with The Memory of All That that I was not inspired to read the entire book. After several chapters, I still felt I was picking the book up at its midpoint, that I had neglected to read the Preface. I did Google her father for some historical context...I never got a clear picture of the author or her surroundings, although I will accept the blame for not knowing enough about the few celebrities she mentions, I am not well versed in that time period or that culture to be familiar. I think there might have been a little more back-story to let the reader know about the author's family, and a little more context.
Sure, her family dynamics were atypical, but that's show biz. Maybe it was because I did not read it cover-to-cover, or maybe it's just me, but the story was just not compelling enough to pique or carry my interest.
Katherine Weber’s family memoir The Memory of All That is being marketed as a “colorful, insightful, evocative and very funny” portrait of the extraordinary family (the Warburgs) she descends from on her mother’s side. Readers may see its subtitle “George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and my Family’s Legacy of Infidelities” and fall into the same trap I did, thinking that much of the book would discuss Weber’s grandmother Kay Swift and her relationship with George Gershwin. Instead, the first half of the book is a rather bitter evocation of Weber’s relationship with her father Sidney Kaufman. The second half of the book is more in line of what was promised, but I would have liked to have read much more about the many members of the Warburg family (who I had some trouble keeping track of—a family tree diagram would have been helpful)..
Weber is at her best at the very end of the book where she describes her own relationship with her grandmother. Weber sets out to rehabilitate Kay Swift’s reputation as a musician, and here she succeeds very well in either debunking misinformation passed around among Gershwin biographers or providing fresh insight in Swift’s talent.
This is a well written book, and at times a very interesting book, but it’s not the book the publishers are touting.