A candid, entertaining memoir told through clothes.
Tracy Peacock Tynan grew up in London in the 1950’s and 60s, privy to her parents’ glamorous parties and famous friends—Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and Orson Welles. Cecil Beaton and Katharine Hepburn were her godparents. Tracy was named after Katherine Hepburn’s character, Tracy Lord, in the classic film, The Philadelphia Story. These stylish showbiz people were role models for Tracy, who became a clotheshorse at a young age.
Tracy’s father, Kenneth Tynan, was a powerful theater critic and writer for the Evening Standard, The Observer, and The New Yorker. Her mother was Elaine Dundy, a successful novelist and biographer, whose works have recently been revived by TheNew York Review of Books. Both of Tracy’s parents, particularly her father, were known as much for what they wore as what they wrote.
In the Tynans’ social circles, style was essential, and Tracy had firm ideas about her own clothing for as long as she can remember. Shopping was an art passed down through the family; though shopping trips with her mother were so traumatic that Tracy started shopping on her own when she was fourteen.
When Tracy started writing about her life she found that clothing was the focus of many of her stories. She recalls her father’s dandy attire and her mother’s Pucci dresses, as well as her parents’ rancorous marriage and divorce, her father’s prodigious talents and celebrity lifestyle, and her mother’s lifelong struggle with addiction. She tackles issues big and small using clothes as an entrée—relationships, marriage, children, stepchildren, blended families, her parent’s decline and deaths, and her work as a costume designer are all recounted with humor, with insight, and with the special joy that can only come from finding the perfect outfit.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I hope i don't give anything away when i write that after reading this book slowly and being very moved and also aghast at the level of family dysfunction precious little Tracy endured, i think i figured out how her liberation was assured: Tracy had a sincere and almost contemplative curiosity about everything, from a preternaturally young age. Weaving her story of "liberation" into her curiosity about clothes is a peg-- there could have been other pegs --but isn't the title of this book GREAT!? Our heroine is curious about EVERYTHING, and it saves her. This is my little spoiler but really, I don't know how else she could have done it: 1) survive childhood; 2) find and love a good man and create a family; 2) build a career 3) write about it. I am inspired and filled with admiration for Tracy Tynan and hope her book reaches every young person who might need to learn the way of curiosity: rather than take everything too personally, take a bit of distance and wonder -- maybe even...
Delicious. The making of a woman from the clay of a deeply strange youth. Her parents were bohemians. Her father was a famous bohemian (Kenneth Tynan) who didn't have a clear sense of how to raise a daughter. He took her to see Deep Throat when she was an adolescent. She endured even that and managed to keep talking to him. She's now a costume designer for the movies.
I liked this well written, informative book. Obviously Tracy Tynan's literary chops were inherited but her sensible forgiveness are hers alone and hard won. Her parents were appalling. How she survived her childhood their selfish behavior and addictions is beyond me? But she has survived as this book attests to. I highly recommend this interesting book.
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