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The Price of Illusion: A Memoir

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From Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue comes her dazzling, compulsively readable memoir: a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, chronicling her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, illusion and reality, and what looks like happiness from the thing itself. Born From Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue comes her dazzling, compulsively readable memoir: a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, chronicling her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, illusion and reality, and what looks like happiness from the thing itself. Born into a world of make-believe as the daughter of a larger-than-life film producer, Joan Juliet Buck’s childhood was a whirlwind of famous faces, ever-changing home addresses, and a fascination with the shiny surfaces of things. When Joan became the first and only American woman ever to fill Paris Vogue's coveted position of Editor in Chief, a “figurehead in the cult of fashion and beauty,” she had the means to recreate for her aging father, now a widower, the life he’d enjoyed during his high-flying years, a splendid illusion of glamorous excess that could not be sustained indefinitely. Joan’s memoir tells the story of a life lived in the best places at the most interesting times: London and New York in the swinging 1960s, Rome and Milan in the dangerous 1970s, Paris in the heady 1980s and 1990s. But when her fantasy life at Vogue came to an end, she had to find out who she was after all those years of make-believe. She chronicles this journey in beautiful and at times heartbreaking prose, taking the reader through the wild parties and the fashion, the celebrities and creative geniuses as well as love, loss, and the loneliness of getting everything you thought you wanted and finding it’s not what you’d imagined. While Joan’s story is unique, her journey toward self-discovery is refreshing and universal.


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From Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue comes her dazzling, compulsively readable memoir: a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, chronicling her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, illusion and reality, and what looks like happiness from the thing itself. Born From Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue comes her dazzling, compulsively readable memoir: a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, chronicling her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, illusion and reality, and what looks like happiness from the thing itself. Born into a world of make-believe as the daughter of a larger-than-life film producer, Joan Juliet Buck’s childhood was a whirlwind of famous faces, ever-changing home addresses, and a fascination with the shiny surfaces of things. When Joan became the first and only American woman ever to fill Paris Vogue's coveted position of Editor in Chief, a “figurehead in the cult of fashion and beauty,” she had the means to recreate for her aging father, now a widower, the life he’d enjoyed during his high-flying years, a splendid illusion of glamorous excess that could not be sustained indefinitely. Joan’s memoir tells the story of a life lived in the best places at the most interesting times: London and New York in the swinging 1960s, Rome and Milan in the dangerous 1970s, Paris in the heady 1980s and 1990s. But when her fantasy life at Vogue came to an end, she had to find out who she was after all those years of make-believe. She chronicles this journey in beautiful and at times heartbreaking prose, taking the reader through the wild parties and the fashion, the celebrities and creative geniuses as well as love, loss, and the loneliness of getting everything you thought you wanted and finding it’s not what you’d imagined. While Joan’s story is unique, her journey toward self-discovery is refreshing and universal.

30 review for The Price of Illusion: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    What does a reader do when an author puts her entire life on the page? Well, the reader can follow the author as she weaves the past into the present and, if possible, into the future. In her memoir, "The Price of Illusion", Joan Juliet Buck writes her life and the reader can try to catch on as the years pass, the relationships - both personal and professional - come and go, and Joan Juliet makes peace with the divergent forces in her life. Joan Juliet Buck was born Joan Buck (she added the What does a reader do when an author puts her entire life on the page? Well, the reader can follow the author as she weaves the past into the present and, if possible, into the future. In her memoir, "The Price of Illusion", Joan Juliet Buck writes her life and the reader can try to catch on as the years pass, the relationships - both personal and professional - come and go, and Joan Juliet makes peace with the divergent forces in her life. Joan Juliet Buck was born Joan Buck (she added the "Juliet" later in life to separate herself from another author called "Joan Buck") to parents who'd have been at home in almost any mid-century drawing room comedy. Her father - Jules Buck - was a film producer and creative partner with actor Peter O'Toole. Her mother - Joyce Gates, nee Getz - was an actress who was featured in a few movies, but married Jules Buck and basically retired from public life to make a family with Jules. Joan, an only child, was born in the late 1940's and the family were ex-pats living the good life in London and Paris. The Bucks were very close with John Huston and his family and Jules and John worked together til a falling out separated them. Joan's life-time best friend is Anjelica Huston and she regarded Anjelica's mother, Ricki, as an almost second-mother. As Joan grew up, she became a fashion writer and ended up as editor of "French Vogue". She also did some acting; most notably in "Julie and Julia". She had a brief marriage and many romances. She also recounts the ups-and-downs of her publishing career as well as the vapidity of the fashion world. Would the average reader like Joan Juliet's memoir? It's the picture of a world far away from most of us, who may have very little knowledge of the intricacies of such a life. But, at it's base, the memoir is about family, friends, and business. And those things - in their most elemental form - are interesting to most everybody. Buck's book is good reading

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Grissom

    I will be writing more extensively about Joan Juliet Buck and this fascinating memoir, but I wanted to let readers know about this unique book as soon as possible. Appearances--like substances--are addictive, and Buck lets us know that she has struggled with the addiction to magical places and people and sensations. Her lineage alone is worth the time and price of the memoir, but Buck lets us know about the life that was lived within the brightly colored lines of this lineage, and there isn't an I will be writing more extensively about Joan Juliet Buck and this fascinating memoir, but I wanted to let readers know about this unique book as soon as possible. Appearances--like substances--are addictive, and Buck lets us know that she has struggled with the addiction to magical places and people and sensations. Her lineage alone is worth the time and price of the memoir, but Buck lets us know about the life that was lived within the brightly colored lines of this lineage, and there isn't an ounce of fat or a moment of boredom as she learns what is real and what matters. Outward appearances might suggest a self-satisfied woman, but I speak from experience when I say that Buck is terribly generous in what we call real-life, as well as with her readers. This is a book whose honesty is coruscating, but whose writing is lapidary, etched with a jeweler's sharpness of detail and clarity. I will write more, but one should not wait to read this book. A word we rarely use--and which has sadly descended to camp derision--applies to this book: It is enchanting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allegra

    This is a terrific book - far, far more than just a memoir of the fashion world. (Although it is that, too: you see behind the glass and the gloss of Vogue, and learn how all that glamour is made.) It's an intensely moving self-portrait of a woman who never quite knew where she belonged, and found her security in beautiful things, glamorous people - and eventually discovers, as she writes and as we read, what is truly important. It's a story of the love between a daughter and a father, as he This is a terrific book - far, far more than just a memoir of the fashion world. (Although it is that, too: you see behind the glass and the gloss of Vogue, and learn how all that glamour is made.) It's an intensely moving self-portrait of a woman who never quite knew where she belonged, and found her security in beautiful things, glamorous people - and eventually discovers, as she writes and as we read, what is truly important. It's a story of the love between a daughter and a father, as he lives the "big life" as Peter O'Toole's business partner, until it all falls down - and then, as she rises, she gives him the big life he always wanted - at the cost, as it turns out, of her own sense of self. Then, in the course of a series of tribulations that might have been sent by the gods to test her, she discovers what really matters in life: the truth of unvarnished human connection.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    I had so many expectations for this memoir- but it really disappointed! I stopped halfway through ! It is so tedious and does not flow. The author definitely has an attention focus disorder. Some chapters made no sense at all. I thought the book would reveal what goes on in the fashion world, but I had no idea what she was talking about most of the time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    A self-indulgent poor little rich girl story that manages to name drop fantastically and still be boring. People want the fantasy and the escape of hilarious stories and inside scoop on famous people. This was drudgery that didn't even tie back to the metaphor of the title until the epilogue.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marion

    Do not expect a book about what working at Vogue means. "The price of illusion" is a book about what being your dad's creature mean. It is poetic, fun, never bitter which considering some of the stories being told is quite admirable. Between the US, The UK and France, Joan Juliet Buck weaves a tale with a myriad of characters that take a completely fictional dimension. I almost forgot those existed to focus on the story. You want a happy ending for Joan and what you get is a beautiful "Temps Do not expect a book about what working at Vogue means. "The price of illusion" is a book about what being your dad's creature mean. It is poetic, fun, never bitter which considering some of the stories being told is quite admirable. Between the US, The UK and France, Joan Juliet Buck weaves a tale with a myriad of characters that take a completely fictional dimension. I almost forgot those existed to focus on the story. You want a happy ending for Joan and what you get is a beautiful "Temps retrouvé" moment at the end where a simple gesture brings you back to the beginning of the story, to what "The price of illusion" means.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jorge

    It zips along at a good pace, but Joan Juliet Buck must be the most fatuous woman on the planet. While she often gives the appearance of caring for deeper things (other people, thoughts, ideas), she always reverts to appearances themselves, labels, names, attention. I think she is an addict for attention, praise, and very little talent to warrant either. Her stylish victimization is amusing in a surreal way.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Faith McLellan

    A few bright spots amidst a lot of tiresome name-dropping: some insights into the creative process, a love of color and textiles, a lot of courageous creativity to reimagine a magazine. Otherwise, for me there wasn't much there there. The world of fashion seems even more hollow than I suspected.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    As soon as I began reading TPOI, I was reminded of what an engaging storyteller JJB has always been. I’ve been reading her WWD, Vogue, Bazaar and VF essays for decades and although our paths have not converged, she’s a woman that I’ve felt was a close associate since the 1980s. The delight of reading her memoir is that so many of her escapades overlap with my own, working within the entertainment, publishing and fashion industries she’s spent her life with many people of whom I’ve been curious. As soon as I began reading TPOI, I was reminded of what an engaging storyteller JJB has always been. I’ve been reading her WWD, Vogue, Bazaar and VF essays for decades and although our paths have not converged, she’s a woman that I’ve felt was a close associate since the 1980s. The delight of reading her memoir is that so many of her escapades overlap with my own, working within the entertainment, publishing and fashion industries she’s spent her life with many people of whom I’ve been curious. And many of her poor decisions and pursuits remind me of my own frivolous mistakes. It happened to women our age, whose parents believed in hands off respect and privacy for their children. But her story emphasizes that her parents' opinion of her was paramount. I love reading candid autobiographies and Buck’s is probably the best written and edited that I’ve come across over my many decades as a bookseller. It’s a testament to the habit of keeping a daily journal and all her recorded details and vivid retellings bring authenticity to the stories. How else could she perfectly recall full conversations and the essence of the setting. She grew up in a privileged era for young women born post WWII. Our older sisters made waves and pushed for female equality for which we benefited and our parents’ economic comfort indulged our sense of safety. The 50s and 60s brought fabulous opportunities for Buck to explore a large world and she became an expert observer. It’s a delight to travel those adventures with her on every page. Earlier this year I read the memoir of another Hollywood heroine, Patricia Bosworth, who also modeled, acted and then found her calling as a journalist. Both women attended Sarah Lawrence and dealt with mental instability at home, but Buck’s voice is much more humorous and entertaining. For those who read both Anjelica and Allegra Huston’s memoirs and the stories of their mother Ricki, also Joan’s surrogate mother, TPOI is an essential revisiting of the St. Cleran’s home in which they spent formative years. Don't expect to find a domestic life of happiness, but Buck's loyalty to her parents and friends and herself has earned her a unique perspective and one that makes fascinating entertainment.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    Yes, another memoir for my enjoyment. For the first, maybe half, of the book, I thought Ms. Buck was name-dropping to excess. But I came to realize that the Name People were very much part of her life. And that life was constrained, to a degree, by "the price of illusion". The price is being a public person. Clothes, friends, activities... all are scrutinized. All in all, a sad way to live - in my opinion. For those who can do it... very exciting and powerful. I know that I'd never want to be a Yes, another memoir for my enjoyment. For the first, maybe half, of the book, I thought Ms. Buck was name-dropping to excess. But I came to realize that the Name People were very much part of her life. And that life was constrained, to a degree, by "the price of illusion". The price is being a public person. Clothes, friends, activities... all are scrutinized. All in all, a sad way to live - in my opinion. For those who can do it... very exciting and powerful. I know that I'd never want to be a Vogue editor! Of course, they wouldn't want me either ;-)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Wow. I didn't want to let her go. I didn't want to let go of this tremendous, moving, extraordinary gift Joan Juliet Buck gives to us, the gift of herself. All of herself, the beauty and the warts, the snobishness and the generosity, she lays it out directly, brutally, beautifully page after page. It is an exceptional story, full of excitement and glamour and delight and heartbreak and stupidity. And I loved it and related to it in intimate and astonishing ways. A book that will stay with me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I had a difficult time with this book. First, the book is written as if you already know of Joan Juliet Buck and her life. Second, there was a lot of name dropping that I felt was for the sake of name dropping (perhaps the actual premise of this book). At times there was real emotion, but I failed to connect to her and only rarely felt anything more than fleeting sadness with her story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Over many years Joan Juliet Buck contributed excellent reviews and criticism on a variety of subjects (fashion, media, the arts, film and music) to Vogue Magazine. After an ill-fated assignment in 2011 she and her work evaporated from the printed media. It was an interview with the first lady of Syria printed a few weeks before Bashar al-Assad ordered violent attacks against masses of protesters. Buck is not a stupid woman, perhaps guileless in trusting those who had given her the interview Over many years Joan Juliet Buck contributed excellent reviews and criticism on a variety of subjects (fashion, media, the arts, film and music) to Vogue Magazine. After an ill-fated assignment in 2011 she and her work evaporated from the printed media. It was an interview with the first lady of Syria printed a few weeks before Bashar al-Assad ordered violent attacks against masses of protesters. Buck is not a stupid woman, perhaps guileless in trusting those who had given her the interview assignment. She has detractors who have not spoken in her defense, and supporters: Tina Brown, Manolo Blahnik and Anjelica Huston, who voiced their encouragement and admiration. The media invective was swift and harsh, and it became a turning point in her life eventually resulting in this memoir. Movie producer Jules Buck left America in the 1950s to live in France where his daughter's life was immersed in fairy tale luxury. Their home was not a house, but a pink palace outside Paris. Friends, acquaintances and dinner guests were a who's who of the well-known in entertainment, fashion and politics. John Huston, his wife Ricki, daughters Anjelica and Allegra were more akin to family. Not exactly a tell-all remembrance, and not mere name-dropping, because the people noted were the ones she knew and with whom she associated and worked. Buck does not hold back on her personal experiences including love affairs and marriage. In 1994, Joan Juliet Buck was the only American woman to become editor for French Vogue. Even though France, French culture and the movie industry were second nature to her, and can be tough and challenging, she assumed the fashion industry would not be that different--it was. It proved to be far more treacherous, opaque, unwelcoming and difficult to discern what was going on. She created freshness and a new vision for the publication. Seven years later she was summarily dismissed and sent to rehab for a non-existent drug addiction. Even though she tested negative at the private facility, she stayed on, in part because her severance pay was contingent upon it, out of curiosity, and at the time she had no other home. Without a fogged-over brain, her observations and experiences were illuminating and somewhat helpful for self-reflection and analysis. Having grown up in the world of make believe that is implicit to the entertainment and fashion industries, Joan Juliet Buck did not have any notion of regular life. Initially she paid for it dearly, but there must have been a tough kernel within that enabled her to survive, without too much damage, and plenty of gumption to boot. She has rebounded and is moving forward with the same vigor and insight that she always had.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Arezoo

    This book dies not deserve even one star. I did not know the writer at all and came away thinking she is a shallow women with not much to offer. I gave it one star because I liked the picturesque quality of writing when she talks about her childhood.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan Burns

    Two stars is a bit harsh, but the fashion world myopia is so off-putting -- her description of Princess Di as having big arms was the turning point for me, where she kind of lost my trust. I stuck with it but ultimately found her trapped by the fashion world's narrowness of perspective, even as she derides it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Kelsey

    Joan, dear, you should have gotten a collaborator. The author is clearly a gifted writer and has a very clear style. However! If you're going to cobble together your memoirs from over 50 years, you need a steady hand and brain, not a fragile, wispy, gauzy, "impressionistic" style with key phrases floating to the top of a pile of words in a sentence. Characters popped up and then disappeared. We hopped around in time. People disappeared or even died (!!) without me really understanding who they Joan, dear, you should have gotten a collaborator. The author is clearly a gifted writer and has a very clear style. However! If you're going to cobble together your memoirs from over 50 years, you need a steady hand and brain, not a fragile, wispy, gauzy, "impressionistic" style with key phrases floating to the top of a pile of words in a sentence. Characters popped up and then disappeared. We hopped around in time. People disappeared or even died (!!) without me really understanding who they were or what relationship they had to the author. There's generally two ways to do a very large in scope bio: Start at the present, in a key moment, and "how did we get here" (see Donna Karan's bio) Start at birth or childhood, tell story chronologically (almost every biography) This biography kind of...does both? It's very hard to get ahold of key details in this woman's life. Things seem to kind of "happen" for her, without any effort or planning or real understanding of how she's suddenly editing a magazine. Fascinating topic, falls flat on execution.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Simon

    I loved this book. As the daughter of a film producer, goddaughter to John Huston and a three decades-long journalist for Condé Nast publications Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, Joan Juliet Buck delivers a serious dose of glitz and glam in her memoir. She also deftly chronicles her fall from the Condé Nast family, following a not-quite-seven-year stint as the only American to ever helm Paris Vogue--- and later, the violent backlash from a 2011 assignment on Syria’s First Lady that nearly I loved this book. As the daughter of a film producer, goddaughter to John Huston and a three decades-long journalist for Condé Nast publications Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, Joan Juliet Buck delivers a serious dose of glitz and glam in her memoir. She also deftly chronicles her fall from the Condé Nast family, following a not-quite-seven-year stint as the only American to ever helm Paris Vogue--- and later, the violent backlash from a 2011 assignment on Syria’s First Lady that nearly ended her career. Yet, Joan’s observations on cultural identity are what tugged on me most. Born in California and raised in Paris and London, Joan struggled, even at the height of her success, to wriggle comfortably into any one culture. Fascinating, heartfelt and fun read. I recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cyndie

    I loved this book and wanted to continue reading more. Ms. Buck's life has been so fascinating and interesting - so full of colorful people and places. It was fun to imagine it all while reading her story. Her childhood is something I don’t even think just any child would be able to handle. So mentally independent at such a young age or at least it seemed that way. I was in awe of her tireless dedication to her parents and handling all that while working in the fashion industry and as editor in I loved this book and wanted to continue reading more. Ms. Buck's life has been so fascinating and interesting - so full of colorful people and places. It was fun to imagine it all while reading her story. Her childhood is something I don’t even think just any child would be able to handle. So mentally independent at such a young age or at least it seemed that way. I was in awe of her tireless dedication to her parents and handling all that while working in the fashion industry and as editor in chief at Paris Vogue. She’s my hero as I can’t even imagine doing all that she has done. Truly a Renaissance woman and I look forward to see what she does next.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    A wonderful book! She writes in the same dreamlike quality as Anjelica Huston's autobiography. Interestingly enough, they grew up together and are still quite close. I always heard of Joan Juliet Buck but since I have never been a Vogue reader (take that, Anna Wintour!) didn't realize she was the editor of French Vogue. She knew everyone before they were anyone - Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, etc. I couldn't put it down.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robin DeLisle

    I loved this book, not because it had fashion and glamour, but because the author was not afraid to be honest about her feelings, in most cases, anyway. As I have said before, this memoir is like a roller coaster ride, and pulling into the platform, you just don't want the ride to be over yet. I intend to listen to the audio book now, as well. Treat yourself!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I usually finish a book in about two days. After reading this book for three weeks I was only on page 100 and so I finally returned it to the library unfinished. I found it incredibly dull. I found a lack of emotion in the story, it was just names on pages.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This novel is as riveting and humbling as the author. It takes the reader through the excitement and fullness of the unique experiences only one exposed to such naked fame will endure.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Couldn't finish this one. There were lots of stories about apparently famous people, but I knew very little about any of them and didn't really care. It all seemed rather pointless to me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emer O'Toole

    A friend with great book taste recommended this to me, and, knowing little and caring less about fashion, I am surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Lyrically speaking, Buck is a beautiful writer. Her words flow as easily as speech, her writing seems as natural as talking, and then, occasionally, there'll be a stunning turn of phrase or an arresting metaphor, shining out of the perfectly tamed prose like a diamond against chic couture. Never flashy. Never too much. Just enough to show you've got A friend with great book taste recommended this to me, and, knowing little and caring less about fashion, I am surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Lyrically speaking, Buck is a beautiful writer. Her words flow as easily as speech, her writing seems as natural as talking, and then, occasionally, there'll be a stunning turn of phrase or an arresting metaphor, shining out of the perfectly tamed prose like a diamond against chic couture. Never flashy. Never too much. Just enough to show you've got it. She recounts a fascinating life, studded with celebrities from her very earliest years. She worked hard for her success in the fashion world and is obviously a woman of great imagination and talent. Buck was born into and lived her life in immense privilege. Unimaginable privilege. One of the most fascinating things about the memoir, for me, is her complete lack of awareness of this fact. By the time her father dies, leaving her an inheritance, and she states "I had money for the first time in my life," it is difficult, as a simple plebeian, not to laugh in disbelief. There is an air of cashmere soft intellectualism hung around the shoulders of this memoir - we learn about Buck's 10,000 books on mahogany shelves against the high walls of her beautiful, ghostly Paris apartment; there are gestures to profound conversations with fascinating new acquaintances. But as for what may be in those books, as to what philosophical observations might have excited the interlocutors, these things never rise to the surface. She tells us she wanted to be in Berlin as the wall fell, but it's hard to understand why. Politics are reduced to the sartorial signifiers of caviar socialists and the conservative old guard. Bombs explode in Paris in the 90s, seemingly to create an aesthetic affect. I found myself quite distrustful of the narration. This suspicion was solidified when at the end of the book Buck recounts as personal tragedy her decision to write a fawning fluff piece for Vogue about Asma al-Assad. The piece was roundly condemned and it ruined her reputation. But according to Buck, it was Vogue who wanted the glamour and not the politics. Her sole crime was failing to listen to her intuition. She was the true victim here. Hark ye: this is the price of illusion. Now, I will admit to a fondness for an unreliable narrator, but I knocked a star off this review on behalf of Syria all the fucking same. Overall, however, I enjoyed the book very much, as a glimpse into extreme privilege, as a travelogue about a country that I will never visit, as an account of how the strange people there think, which is as profound when read against its grain and it is impenetrable on its glassy sleek surface.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patrizia

    Scattershot. But filled with the juiciest gossip imaginable, particularly if—like me!—you spent the 70s, 80s, and 90s on the outer fringes of the haute monde Buck describes in her memoir. And the status detail—hello-o-o-o, Tom Wolfe! Just one of the many men with whom Buck maybe-yes-and-maybe-no had an affair—is beyond fabulous. The description of the "pearls of wisdom"—nine strands of pearls held together by a clasp, which featured a bust of Plato—is probably worth the price of the book. Though Scattershot. But filled with the juiciest gossip imaginable, particularly if—like me!—you spent the 70s, 80s, and 90s on the outer fringes of the haute monde Buck describes in her memoir. And the status detail—hello-o-o-o, Tom Wolfe! Just one of the many men with whom Buck maybe-yes-and-maybe-no had an affair—is beyond fabulous. The description of the "pearls of wisdom"—nine strands of pearls held together by a clasp, which featured a bust of Plato—is probably worth the price of the book. Though I must confess, I only take books out of the library these days after closing down a house that had so many books, it had no room for furniture. One thing annoyed me greatly throughout, though: Ms. Buck keeps referring to her youthful self as "plump" in a derogatory way. By that, I take it she means she wasn't anorexic. I was curious enough to track down photos of the youthful Ms. Buck, and she was definitely skinny enough to give perfect GiGi-inspired headshot. In fact, Ms. Buck's lamenting over her lack of true physical beauty is a whine that goes all the way through the book, and at a certain point, it becomes obvious that she is actually fishing for compliments from her unseen reader. Like I said—annoying! One does get the distinct impression that a coffee date with Ms. Buck at one of Rhinebeck's quaint and overpriced restaurants would consist entirely of 40 minutes of breathless, nonstop talk at the end of which, she would say, "But enough about me! Let's talk about you! What do you think of me?" The Price of Illusion is still fun, though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Worth the time - at first I almost gave up half-way through - as I am wont to do - partly due to details I found tedious. My complaint, often, with non-fiction is lack of editing - so many books are padded. But - Buck's fascinating life story in terms of all the mega-stars of film and fashion that were always in her personal and professional life - privileged from the get-go - are compelling for folks like me who love tales of the back-channels/back-stories - what redeems all the name-dropping Worth the time - at first I almost gave up half-way through - as I am wont to do - partly due to details I found tedious. My complaint, often, with non-fiction is lack of editing - so many books are padded. But - Buck's fascinating life story in terms of all the mega-stars of film and fashion that were always in her personal and professional life - privileged from the get-go - are compelling for folks like me who love tales of the back-channels/back-stories - what redeems all the name-dropping and her dropping the ball on deeper analysis of her motivations and actions - is her eventual reckoning with the consequences of a gilded life she led from childhood through her eventual hard fall from grace. And - then - her late in the game ability to bounce back to a more authentic self and life. I won't go into the details that would be major spoilers - but, the basics are - that her father launched the film career of Peter O'Toole - her godfather was John Huston - she grew up with Angelica Huston who is a sister of sorts - she had affairs with Donald Sutherland, Jerry Brown, Brian De Palma - turned down Leonard Cohen, was involved with Tom Wolfe (forget if she slept with him) - the London & Paris years in the 60's are a fun read. Her elite toxic life as a fashion editor for Paris Vogue - both regulatory and exhausting (again - could've used some editing). Worth it if the worlds of fashion, film and some lit figures in London, Paris, LA from the 50's through today float your boat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    This is definitely one of my favorite memoirs in a long time. On the surface, it’s glamorous and unbelievable (how can one person live such a fascinating and whirlwind life?) but dig deeper, as the author does, and it’s the story of family and finding one’s self under some truly incredible trappings. It’s funny, delightful, poignant, critical—Joan Juliet Buck has always been one of my favorite Vogue contributors, and here, she turns her fantastic writing towards herself and her remarkable life. This is definitely one of my favorite memoirs in a long time. On the surface, it’s glamorous and unbelievable (how can one person live such a fascinating and whirlwind life?) but dig deeper, as the author does, and it’s the story of family and finding one’s self under some truly incredible trappings. It’s funny, delightful, poignant, critical—Joan Juliet Buck has always been one of my favorite Vogue contributors, and here, she turns her fantastic writing towards herself and her remarkable life. Hollywood, Paris, London, the Riviera, movies, fashion, art, culture, celebrity... the names and the places set up such a life. It seems like a fairy tale! But of course, like any fairy tale, the glitter and the magic must end, and she gives the reader the gift of truly laying herself and her life out, never trying to make something more or less than it was. She delivers the kind of memoir I want to read again and again for beautiful prose, fantastic (and fantastical) stories, and truly sage advice.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina McLain

    I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand the author, a modern day Sheherazade reels us in with one fantastic story after another about her privileged life as the only child of an ambitious bipolar Hollywood producer and his enigmatic enabling wife-- both of whom give new meaning to the phrase " living beyond your means." On the other, though she claims to have finally had her Damascus moment-- literally --after becoming a pariah upon writing a puff piece for Vogue about Assad's wife I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand the author, a modern day Sheherazade reels us in with one fantastic story after another about her privileged life as the only child of an ambitious bipolar Hollywood producer and his enigmatic enabling wife-- both of whom give new meaning to the phrase " living beyond your means." On the other, though she claims to have finally had her Damascus moment-- literally --after becoming a pariah upon writing a puff piece for Vogue about Assad's wife only months before the Arab Spring spun Syria into its hellish civil war-- one wonders if secretly she doesn't still long for her life of surfaces and illusion. Whatever. You feel as though you will never really know her. And nothing really matters as shes still dancing as fast as she can to survive. I wish her well but get the feeling that despite its fabulousness her life has been squandered for glitter, for trash.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    If you're into big, juicy memoirs, then this book is for you. Joan Juliet Buck is the former editor of French Vogue, but that's about the least of her credentials. Born to a pair of wealthy parents (including a director father), Joan's life and social circle have touched everything and everyone imaginable. Some of the Good Reads reviewers criticize her of namedropping but it doesn't read like that, it's simply a fact of her life. She grew up alongside Anjelica Huston, and this book includes If you're into big, juicy memoirs, then this book is for you. Joan Juliet Buck is the former editor of French Vogue, but that's about the least of her credentials. Born to a pair of wealthy parents (including a director father), Joan's life and social circle have touched everything and everyone imaginable. Some of the Good Reads reviewers criticize her of namedropping but it doesn't read like that, it's simply a fact of her life. She grew up alongside Anjelica Huston, and this book includes everyone from Princess Diana to Jackie Kennedy to Mr. Chow to Jack Nicholson (of course) to Manolo Blahnik. She had an affair with Donald Sutherland, among others, and in her life saw so many things firsthand--AIDS, wars, the rise and fall of print magazines. Really unbelievable. (And the story of how she scraps together money in Beverly Hills at one point is hilarious). I listened to this on audiobook and she narrates, which is always a plus.

  30. 4 out of 5

    False

    I took the time to read previous reviews of this book. Tedious showed up a lot with the occasional ADD. Name dropper was frequent. For as much insight as she allegedly gained during this fall, you wonder what she has really learned from the experience. One reviewer said, "It zips along at a good pace, but Joan Juliet Buck must be the most fatuous woman on the planet. While she often gives the appearance of caring for deeper things (other people, thoughts, ideas), she always reverts to I took the time to read previous reviews of this book. Tedious showed up a lot with the occasional ADD. Name dropper was frequent. For as much insight as she allegedly gained during this fall, you wonder what she has really learned from the experience. One reviewer said, "It zips along at a good pace, but Joan Juliet Buck must be the most fatuous woman on the planet. While she often gives the appearance of caring for deeper things (other people, thoughts, ideas), she always reverts to appearances themselves, labels, names, attention. I think she is an addict for attention, praise, and very little talent to warrant either. Her stylish victimization is amusing in a surreal way. " Well...THAT was succinct. I've followed her career and it seemed at times her life WAS a Vogue profile--something she later professes to hate. She let her demented father, another wastrel with money, continue to be pampered, eating up her Vogue salary. Lesson learned? Hello, Rhinebeck.

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