Dying of Politeness: A Memoir

HarperOne. Oct. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780063119130. $28.99. FILM
This memoir by Academy Award– and Golden Globe–winning actress Davis is a great single-day read that’s hard to put down, the story of a life that’s warm, real, and not plastic. Most readers will likely finish the book in one sitting, loving it all the way. There are moments of over-cuteness in the telling, but overall, Davis writes with authenticity—like someone readers would like to know. The tales she tells of her life on screen, from the 1982 film Tootsie through TV’s Commander in Chief, are captivating. Thelma and Louise looms large in it: Davis says that it was on this set that she learned to speak up for herself in the film industry, damping down her ingrained New England self-effacement. (No surprise that Davis’s role model, then and now, is Thelma and Louise costar Susan Sarandon.) Davis is generous in writing about past and present friends, colleagues, and romantic partners, and she speaks up eloquently for gender equity in movie and TV production, a cause that has occupied her in recent years.
VERDICT For admirers of Davis, film, or anyone who believes women deserve an equal voice in their industry. In particular, her take on the appeal of Thelma and Louise is spot on.
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