Books Magazine

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

By Pamelascott

In this ambitious book, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker-the child, the woman, the fated celebrity and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startling, intimate, and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story, that of an emblematic American artist-intensely conflicted and driven-who has lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood's myth and an extraordinary woman's heart-breaking reality, Blonde is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star.


[There came Death hurtling along the Boulevard in waning sepia light] ***

(Ecco Press, 14 February 2017, first published 2000, 754 pages, ebook, bought from Amazon)



Blonde is a book by JCO I never thought I'd read. Given the subject matter I assumed it was an autobiography. When it was re-released last year and I realised it was a novel I snapped up a copy.

Blonde is an amazing book. I knew who Marilyn Monroe was before I read the book. I knew the gossip, intrigue and scandal. JCO brings this icon on the screen to life in brilliant, unforgettable ways.

In this book, JCO depicts a woman, desperate to escape an unsettling, tumultuous childhood and make something of herself. My heart ached for Norma Jeane Baker, the child who becomes a ward of the state when her mother is committed, married off at the age of 15 to stop her foster father from molesting her.

I was fascinated by the transformation of Norma Jeane Baker into the icon known forever as Marilyn Monroe. She doesn't make the best choices but she does her best with what she's been given. As Marilyn ages and further scandal is attached to her life, her blonde mask starts to unravel. The book is heart-breaking at times. It must have been hard to be Marilyn to put on this front all the time. I would have been exhausted.

Blonde is a fantastic book, intimate, tragic, gun-wrenching and heart-breaking - one of JCO's best.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

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