Notes On A Life by Eleanor Coppola
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If youâ€™d surmise that the matriarch of this family would be flamboyant, commanding, and larger-than-life, then youâ€™d be wrong. Eleanorâ€™s writing style is quiet and reserved; she has the centered Zen energy of an observant monk. Ranging episodically over several decades, Coppola offers an honest portrait of middle age and marriageâ€” sheâ€™s just turned 50 as her book begins in 1986. She has Wife Problems (a ubiquitous affliction compounded by the fact that sheâ€™s married to a genius)--- for decades she has put her husband and their family first and her own aspirations second. She ponders the choices sheâ€™s made:
"I have an ongoing internal war, a conflict between wanting to be a good wife and mother and also to draw, paint, design, write and shoot videos. I focus on the family and imagine there will be time for my interests, but there rarely is."
Sheâ€™s an artist and a documentary filmmaker in her own right, but feels like an invisible shape-shifter. She overhears Tom Waitsâ€™ speaking on a movie set and acknowledges his wisdom ruefully. He says: â€œFamily and career donâ€™t like each other â€¦ one is always trying to eat the other. Youâ€™re always trying to find balance. But one is really useless without the other. What you really want is a sink and a faucet. Thatâ€™s the ideal.â€
There are some interesting Brando stories (â€œI felt as if I were standing in a special beam of lightâ€), a fascination with numerology, some anecdotal references to Francisâ€™ temper tantrums, a biography of the ancient psychic oak tree on The Niebaum- Coppola estate, and a bizarre account of a trip on Ellen Barkinâ€™s preposterous yacht.
Coppolaâ€™s revelation of the enormous personal costs of being married and raising a family might be an emotional life raft for all wives and mothers, famous or otherwise.
Submitted by Jane @ King