Book Review: You Have No Idea

This is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are mine and mine alone!

The book I'm reviewing today is a bit of a departure for me, or at least these pages, where we focus on literary and creative writing topics.  But in a part of my life I don't publicize, for obvious reasons, I'm sort of a fiend for celebrity gossip.

I'm not proud of this.  But there it is.

But it is also why I leaped at the chance to review You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other), by Vanessa Williams, and her mother Helen Williams.

It is mostly the story of the life of Vanessa Williams, she of Miss America, Ugly Betty, and Desperate Housewives fame.  But throughout the book, direct and forthright Helen, Vanessa's mother, speaks up, adding her point of view to the proceedings.

I've always liked Vanessa Williams, because to me she comes across as an intelligent non-diva, and that's exactly the impression I still have of her after reading this book.  Helen's part in the narrative really helps this.  Both women are good company.  I often get bored reading books like this, but I finished this one with interest.  And I loved all the photos that are interspersed throughout.  Vanessa Williams really is a stunningly beautiful woman who manages to look good no matter what.  Sigh. 

One of the things I kept thinking about as I wrote was ghostwriting.  As most of you know, one of the writer's hats I wear is ghostwriter.  In this case, the ghostwriter got a credit.  Irene Zutell is listed as a "with" on the cover.  I think she did a good job on this book, as the narrative of each woman comes across as the distinct personalities they are.  From a note at the back, I presume there was lots of meeting for interviews in locations across the country.

Sounds easy, right? Meet a celebrity in some glamorous location, interview her, transcribe the pages and clean it up a bit.  And voila! You've got yourself a memoir.  But it doesn't work like that, because the spoken word doesn't necessarily translate to a unique written voice.  Weird phenomenon, but there it is. The ghostwriter has to really work to get the voice of the subject on the page.

Anyway, if you're a fan and you get the chance to read this book, do it.  You'll enjoy it.  And it would make a great Mother's Day gift.  Also, you can read tons more about it on the BlogHer Book Club page.

6 Responses to Book Review: You Have No Idea

  1. J.D. 05/03/2012 at 04:54 #

    Yes, I may read that. I won’t buy it but if I can pick it up at the library or something . . . . Of course I should read it; I’ve already looked at the pictures.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 05/03/2012 at 10:48 #

    J.D., I think you can get a digital download of it, maybe your library carries it.  I love my library and use it all the time but I also like to support other authors as much as I can by buying their books.

  3. Elissa 05/03/2012 at 11:31 #

    I will admit it. I like the celebrity gossip too! Great review!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 05/03/2012 at 12:21 #

    Thanks for chiming in, Elissa.  I'm glad I'm not the only one!

  5. Irene 05/03/2012 at 14:22 #

    Loved the review. Thanks Charlotte! Irene Zutell

  6. Charlotte Dixon 05/03/2012 at 15:01 #

    Thank you for stopping by, Irene!

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