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Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond by Florence Henderson, Joel Brokaw

Saturday, August 13, 2011
For millions of people around the world, Carol Brady is synonymous with motherhood, but growing up as the youngest of ten children in rural Indiana in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Florence Henderson lived a life quite different from that of the quintessential TV mom she later played on television.
Florence's father was a dirt-poor tobacco tenant farmer who was nearly fifty years old when he married Florence's twenty-five-year-old mother, and was nearly seventy when Florence was born. Florence's childhood was full of abuse and abandonment. Her father was an alcoholic at a time when there was no rehab or help for the disease. Their home rarely had electricity or running water. When she was twelve, Florence's mother left the family to work in Cleveland and never returned.
Florence is ready to open up about her childhood, as well as the challenges she's faced as an adult, including stage fright, postpartum depression, her extramarital affairs and divorce, and her hearing loss and heart problems. She writes with honesty and wisdom of how her faith and ability to survive has brought her through rough times to a life of profound joy and purpose. She notes that this memoir "is written as a natural consequence of forgiveness and compassion, not only for those who harmed me, but most importantly, for myself."

Goodreads Summary

Does anyone really see the person behind the movie star?  Florence Henderson was iconic in her T.V. show years, but how many people actually knew her as Florence rather than, say, Carol Brady?  She has a very diverse and complicated background. 

The reader will get to read a little about her mother and father, how different they were and the problems Florence faced as a young child.  She endured abuse and abandonment...described with a fair amount of detail in the book.  The reader will immediately like Florence as a person and be drawn into the book.  The book is very factual, it doesn't feel as if the author is attempting to sway the reader to a certain side or way of thinking.  Florence makes it to her adult years, where more trouble lies in wait for her.  She also has plenty of good events occur to even out the bad.  The reader will likely find him/herself more interested in Florence's life rather than her movie star years.  She will become just a person with an interesting story to the reader, the reader will think of her as Florence rather than Carol.  This book is very well-written and recommended to adults/young adults who enjoy nonfiction.

4 Stars