RR LogoIngrid Bergman My Story - A Classic Book Review

 Book Review: Ingrid Bergman My Story / Written by: Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess / Published by: Delacorte Press, 1980

Ingrid Bergman Photo OneSome of the best books you will read were not written today, or yesterday or even last year, but if you look carefully you will find treasures written many years ago. Such is the case with the book Ingrid Bergman My Story published in 1980. The book is told for the most part through the eyes of the beautiful and talented Swedish born actress Ingrid Bergman and complimented by the sometimes narrative of Alan Burgess or the words of those who worked with and knew Ingrid Bergman personally, including one of her daughters Pia Lindström.

Through Ms. Bergman’s eyes and heart we experience her childhood and the tragedies she endured from an early age, as her mother died when Ingrid was three years old and her father passed away when she was twelve. The aunt she then went to live with died in her arms one year later. Ingrid Bergman knew from very early in life that she wanted to be an actress and eventually she auditoned for entrance into the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden. Misreading the body language and intent of the judges, she went to the harbor and contemplated ending her life. Instead, Ingrid Bergman gave audiences in both cinema and live theatres outstanding performances for most of the 20 th century, including the last years of her life, before breast cancer finally took her away from us on August 29, 1982.

Ingrid Bergman does not whitewash her life. This is not a santized story that only makes you feel good, but it talks about the errors she feels she sometimes made both personally and professionally and it lays bare the fondness and the difficulty for her three husbands Petter Lindström (her first and father of Emmy Award winning newscaster Pia Lindström), Italian film director Roberto Rossellini (father of actress Isabella Rossellini) and Swedish theater director and producer Lars Schmidt.  Some would reasonably argue that her marriage to Petter Lindström was emotionally abusive and could credibly present a case that her subsequent affair and marriage to Rossellini was even moreso. Many of Ingrid Bergman’s personal letters are reproduced in this book and you can often feel the heartbreak of a mother who was adored by millions and yet who so often her work separated her from the children that she loved.

If you have ever moved to a country where your native language is not spoken you will feel the frustration early in Ingrid Bergman’s career, as she moves to America and then later to Italy, France and England. Yet her tremendous abilities, as an actress and her determination clearly defined her as the most prolific actress of the 20 th century.

You feel sadness that an American senator convinced congress and the American media to viciously condemn her for her affair with Roberto Rossellini and becoming pregnant with his child, while still married to Petter Lindström, the intent of this writer is to neither condone her actions nor to pass judgement, but simply to wonder out loud if she would have been treated as harshly today. For many years she never set foot in America, because of the harsh treatment that she received.

There is laughter and surprise that come through in so many ways, like Pia as a child correcting her mother’s use of the English language, or some of the unintentional comedic occurrences on stages throughout the world during her performances or the surprise 70 th birthday party for Roberto Rossellini long after they had been divorced.

It was at the bidding of her four children that Ingrid Bergman penned her biography, so as in the words of her son Robertino she was not left at the mercy of unscrupulous writers who might base their books on nothing more than press clippings, second hand stories and gossip. What comes through is an account of warm, generous lady, who was an iconic stage and film actress and a very strong person.

Everyone should find something to enjoy from reading this book, but we would certainly recommend that whether you are at the beginning of your career in the entertainment world, at the mid-point or nearing the end that you should consider reading Ingrid Bergman My Story. We picked up our copy at a quality used book store, but although the book is out of print there are many copies for sale online.

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This review by Joe Montague  published July 7, 2015 is protected by copyright and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine © All Rights Reserved.  This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine, All Rights Reserved