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Mommie Dearest: 40th Anniversary Edition

Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 19 hrs and 14 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Summary

The 40th anniversary edition of the “shocking” number one New York Times best seller with an exclusive new introduction by the author (Los Angeles Times).   

When Christina Crawford’s harrowing chronicle of child abuse was first published in 1978, it brought global attention to the previously closeted subject. It also shed light on the guarded world of Hollywood and stripped away the façade of Christina’s relentless, alcoholic abuser: her adoptive mother, movie star Joan Crawford.   

Christina was a young girl shown off to the world as a fortunate little princess. But at home, her lonely, controlling, even ruthless mother made her life a nightmare. A fierce battle of wills, their relationship could be characterized as an ultimately successful, for Christina, struggle for independence. She endured and survived, becoming the voice of so many other victims who suffered in silence, and giving them the courage to forge a productive life out of chaos.   

This edition features an exclusive new introduction by the author, plus rare photographs from her personal collection revealing material not found in the original manuscript.

©1978, 1998, 2017 1998, 2017 by Christina Crawford (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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A harrowing tale of child abuse

Most people will probably have seen Faye Dunaway’s performance as Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" (1981). If you have seen it and think you know the whole story, think again. The film is like a trailer for the book in terms of content. Faye Dunaway had regrets about making the film, “I think it turned my career in a direction where people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me,” she told People magazine. And Christina Crawford expressed her disappointment with the film saying “It was meant to be a window into a tortured soul. But it was made into camp”. By comparison, the audiobook is shocking and often difficult to listen to. The level of cruelty and abuse suffered by Christina, and her brother Christopher (to a lesser, though still traumatic extent) is harrowing and moving. It paints a picture of a self-absorbed, spiteful and controlling alcoholic diva, seemingly without conscience and prepared to meet out excessive punishments behind closed doors to her adopted children whom she ruled with a rod of steel. It's hard not to think 'what a horrible bitch!' when hearing many of these stories of her vodka-fuelled temper as the isolated children became the objects of her anger and punishment on a continuous basis. It's a credit to the author that she survived the experience without becoming bitter and twisted and managed to achieve much in her personal life and career, working with other abused children at a time when the condition was virtually unreported. She also had to cope with attacks from fans and Hollywood friends of Joan Crawford who didn't believe the outwardly-charming star could behave in such a way - with the exception of Betty Davis! The ultimate rejection (rejection being an ongoing tactic) was when Ms. Crawford's lawyer read her will after her funeral and it stated that she was leaving nothing to Christina and Christopher 'for reasons they both know'. I think that was the point where Christina decided to go public and wrote 'Mommie Dearest'. A book, one senses, she would happily have preferred a happy upbringing to writing. Highly recommended - the book somehow manages to be inspiring despite the cruel and sad treatment of two vulnerable children. Good luck for the future, Christina!

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Compulsively believable

A thoroughly compelling account of a gruelling relationship. Shocking and saddening. Still sensational and searing.

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A Horrifying Glimpse into Child Abuse

Well worth the listen; spectacular production, and the subject matter is captivating and moving. It only offers a small glimpse into the subject of child abuse, and at the same time, an exhaustive one. Between the Old Hollywood gossip, the behind-the-scenes peeks into the inner workings of that fantastic, electrifying, and abominable behemoth that is Hollywood itself, the honest and precise analysis of a dangerous and powerful woman, and the havoc she could wreak (depending on her hourly moods), the story unfolds slowly, slowly, and awfully quick. And yet, when all is said and done, there are clearly only victims in this shocking saga, and you cannot help sympathise with all involved; from Christina, to Christopher, to the twins, to Alfred Steele, to Joan herself: a flawed, savage, wounded, woman; traumatised, exploited, and sometimes even wrongfully vilified by the press and columnists which her career depended on. There are no winners. It is all just terribly sad.

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Very one sided story

A very one sided whiney story. I found the voice of the narrator very grating. It sounded like she was trying too hard to sound correct. It just didn’t flow, it wasn’t natural.

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Great listen

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, life certainly wasn't a happy experience having Joan Crawford for a mother. Would definetly recommend this audio book.

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  • charlie tuna III
  • 31-01-20

Wonderful book!

When this book 1st came out I wanted to read it, but I am not much of a reader so I’ve always wanted to listen to it. But no where could I find it on tape. So when audible came out with it I knew right away I wanted to snatch it up so I could listen to it, because of all the reviews I heard were negative and said the only reason Christina Crawford wrote this book was to get money.! I heard her on all the talkshows Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey, and her story was quite compelling to me. Now listening to her story I can safely say and unfortunately say I hope that Joan Crawford is burning in HELL!! To treat any person and especially any child like she treated her children that is the only place for HER! Anyways about the book, I feel sorry for what Christina and her brother Christopher had to go through living under the thumb of someone who Was so bipolar and saw shadows working around every corner. I do not know how she’s made it to the age of 80 but I must say God bless her for making it this long, and I hope she Lives to be 100. Get this book and you won’t be disappointed

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  • Clive Hazell
  • 08-06-20

An astonishing true story

It is hard to express how powerful this story is and how long I have waited for this audiobook. It is updated and includes sections not in the original publication. These additions clear up some of the initial criticisms that were made of the author and also explain why she excluded them initially. Anyone who claims the author is is a fabulist is simply protecting an abuser, because victims don't make up stories this detailed with such clarity. There are claims Ms Crawford did a "hatchet job" on Joan Crawford but time has only proven that what she wrote was clearly true. A deeply insecure woman, driven to be successful but with so much baggage that it makes her an existential threat to the child she feels she controls. I also want to commend Tavia Gilbert who had a wonderful brittleness to her voice that really captured the pain that Christina Crawford experienced. The whole thing is very powerful, very compelling and very very painful. There are moments of bitterness (why shouldn't there be) but the updated "In Memoriam" section is deeply personal and deeply human. This is a woman who was a victim and her story is truly powerful. I recommend it.

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  • Patrick
  • 22-04-20

No More Wire Hangers Ever!!

I had seen the movie quite a few times and this is the first time I have read the book. Obviously Hollywood did as it always does and didn't follow the book much. The story is very interesting and very sad. I know that thier may be skeptics of the story, but we weren't there so we don't know for sure how much of the story is true. It's just so hard to understand why Joan would act like that if she really wanted children.

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  • Judy
  • 19-09-20

Sad Story

This is an in-depth look at life as one of Joan Crawford's adopted children, a look that was covered only superficially in the 1981 movie, Mommie Dearest. Crawford's frenzied search for babies to adopt was probably a combination of a need to cater to appearances, as well as a search for unquestioning love. That babies grow into people seems to have escaped her notice until it was too late, and she found herself dealing with independent little thinkers. Christina's detailed descriptions of events that occurred all those years ago compromises her narrative, details such as her memory of the moonlight playing on the lower portion of someone's face during a conversation that took place in 1948. However, the core of her story rings true; you couldn't make this stuff up. Christina and her brother Chris surely lived the entire nasty experience. Tavia Gilbert's narration is fine, especially her rendition of Joan Crawford, but she emotes to the point of listener irritation when she slips into high-pitched whining descriptions of particularly emotional scenes.