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In her riveting memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie Jones—the daughter of author James Jones (From Here to Eternity) and an acclaimed author in her own right (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Celeste Ascending; As Soon As It Rains)—tells the poignant story of her relationship with her famous father and her alcoholic mother, and of her own struggles with the diseas In her riveting memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie Jones—the daughter of author James Jones (From Here to Eternity) and an acclaimed author in her own right (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Celeste Ascending; As Soon As It Rains)—tells the poignant story of her relationship with her famous father and her alcoholic mother, and of her own struggles with the disease. A true story of privilege, loss, self-discovery, and redemption, Lies My Mother Never Told Me is Jones’s unforgettable account of a not-quite-fairy-tale childhood and adulthood defined by two constants: literature and alcohol.


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In her riveting memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie Jones—the daughter of author James Jones (From Here to Eternity) and an acclaimed author in her own right (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Celeste Ascending; As Soon As It Rains)—tells the poignant story of her relationship with her famous father and her alcoholic mother, and of her own struggles with the diseas In her riveting memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie Jones—the daughter of author James Jones (From Here to Eternity) and an acclaimed author in her own right (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Celeste Ascending; As Soon As It Rains)—tells the poignant story of her relationship with her famous father and her alcoholic mother, and of her own struggles with the disease. A true story of privilege, loss, self-discovery, and redemption, Lies My Mother Never Told Me is Jones’s unforgettable account of a not-quite-fairy-tale childhood and adulthood defined by two constants: literature and alcohol.

30 review for Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Kaylie Jones has written a crying-from-laughter, weeping-from-sadness, can’t-put-it-down, through-a shot-glass-darkly memoir about growing up the child of literary giant James Jones. Her father’s WW II classics brought in enough income to allow the family a life of physical comfort. But alcoholism is quite resistant to a greenback cure, and both of Kaylie’s parents were afflicted, a legacy she inherited. While dad’s contribution to the world can be found in libraries across the planet, mother Gl Kaylie Jones has written a crying-from-laughter, weeping-from-sadness, can’t-put-it-down, through-a shot-glass-darkly memoir about growing up the child of literary giant James Jones. Her father’s WW II classics brought in enough income to allow the family a life of physical comfort. But alcoholism is quite resistant to a greenback cure, and both of Kaylie’s parents were afflicted, a legacy she inherited. While dad’s contribution to the world can be found in libraries across the planet, mother Gloria’s contribution was a lifetime of cruelty, control, selfishness and destructiveness along with an enormous capacity for laughter and fun. How could any child of two such parents possibly live up to the accomplishment of one parent, or survive the firestorm of the other? Apparently Kaylie Jones has come through, battle-scarred but still standing. Kaylie Jones The social milieu in which the Jones family existed was shared by what seems like most of the major American writers of the 20th century. She drops more names than a phone book deliveryman, but there is no snooty obnoxiousness associated with this. She is not trying to build herself up by referencing the wealthy, the well-known, and the accomplished among her family’s associates. The presence of these people was merely what was normal in that world. You could do worse in creating a survey course on 20th century American literature than to list the writers the Jones family knew personally. The details offered here also add insight into some of their well-known works. It might be a bit tough for a kid growing up among so many bright lights not to feel a bit overshadowed. And it is to her credit that she so clearly notes that she benefited professionally in no small quantity because of who she was rather than purely on what she had done. Raised in Paris, fluent in French and Russian, an award-winning author of screenplays short stories, and five novels, Jones managed to overcome her barriers, accept some of her advantages and, while she has not attained the acclaim of her famed parent, she has managed to succeed in her chosen profession. How many writers, whatever their parentage, can say that? Lies My Mother Never Told Me reads and entertains like a novel. It is one of the most interesting, most engaging memoirs I have read. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    "Only one word was whispered in our house, as if it were the worst insult in the entire world you could call somebody -- alcoholic." This is an incredible memoir of both addiction and the literati. Kaylie Jones was the child of two heavy drinkers: her father was the writer James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity" and "The Thin Red Line," and her mother, Gloria, was a renowned socialite. Kaylie's childhood was spent in Paris, and her parents' weekly parties were attended by scores of writers "Only one word was whispered in our house, as if it were the worst insult in the entire world you could call somebody -- alcoholic." This is an incredible memoir of both addiction and the literati. Kaylie Jones was the child of two heavy drinkers: her father was the writer James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity" and "The Thin Red Line," and her mother, Gloria, was a renowned socialite. Kaylie's childhood was spent in Paris, and her parents' weekly parties were attended by scores of writers and other celebrities. Later, the family had to relocate to the States in an effort to save money. The book is an intoxicating mix of dysfunctional family memoir, alcoholism and writer stories. The dysfunction comes mostly from Kaylie's mother, who showed a lot of hostility and jealousy toward her daughter, and they had a stormy relationship until the day Gloria died. Gloria said horrible, awful things to Kaylie, such as telling her she was ugly, a klutz, fat, useless, and that Gloria wished Kaylie hadn't been born. I haven't been this angry at a parent since reading Jeannette Walls' "The Glass Castle." Fortunately for Kaylie, her father was a bighearted guy and often made time for her, despite his work and his drinking problem. Kaylie always felt safest when her dad was around. He taught her how to protect herself, how to fight, how to shoot a gun, and he would read great books to them in the evenings. She had fond memories of him reading The Odyssey aloud during a family vacation in Greece. Sadly, James Jones died when Kaylie was a teenager, a loss that loomed over her for years. Eventually she was able to channel that grief into her writing. "It occurred to me that if my father had lived, I would never have written. His death had broken me, and it was only through reading and writing that I had begun to heal myself." As for writer stories, almost every American author you can think of for the past 60 years is mentioned in the book, and Kaylie probably knew them. There's the story about meeting Truman Capote, of being carried around on James Baldwin's shoulders, of having lunch at John Irving's house, of vacations with William Styron, of Kurt Vonnegut stopping by her parents' home in Paris, of a squabble with Norman Mailer, etc. etc. During a premiere for the movie based on Kaylie's novel, "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries," all of the great American literary lions who had been her father's friends were invited to attend a garden party at Gloria's house. Kris Kristofferson, who acted in the movie, said, "My God, if they dropped a bomb on this tent they'd wipe out half the canon of American letters in one swoop!" One of the things I liked about the structure of the book was how Kaylie broke up the chapters with popular stories that her mother used to tell. One of my favorites involved Lauren "Betty" Bacall, with whom Gloria was good friends: "For several days after my father died, my mother, lying with a bottle of scotch on the couch in the living room, refused to budge. Someone called Betty Bacall, who arrived like the cavalry. Taking the situation in hand, she said to Gloria, 'All right, you don't have to get up now, but you will soon. I went through it with Bogie and I know exactly how you feel. Here's what you do: nothing. No impulsive decisions, no rash moves. Don't start giving stuff away that you'll regret later. Don't sell the house. Don't do anything stupid and for God's sake, don't fuck Frank Sinatra.' Betty was of course referring to her own disastrous rebound relationship with Sinatra in the wake of Humphrey Bogart's death. Gloria started to laugh. She laughed so hard she had to sit up to avoid choking, and from there, she finally got up and had something to eat." The second half of the book deals with Kaylie's road to sobriety and her ongoing struggles with her mother, whose drinking got worse and worse in her later years. Kaylie's writing is lovely and there were several passages that moved me to tears. This book is one of the best addiction memoirs I've read -- right up there with Pete Hamill's "A Drinking Life" and "Drinking: A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp. I highly recommend it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    Yawn. Another dull memoir with an interesting title. Author is an author. Author had famous author parent and alcoholic parent. Author hates her mommy. Author stops drinking and becomes a blackbelt. Reader doesn't care. Yawn. Another dull memoir with an interesting title. Author is an author. Author had famous author parent and alcoholic parent. Author hates her mommy. Author stops drinking and becomes a blackbelt. Reader doesn't care.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    Memoirs seem to be hit and miss for me this year. When offered the opportunity to read Lies My Mother Never Told Me I jumped on it because, honestly, the title is great and it looked interesting. My mistake was not looking to see who it was about. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal. Most memoirs I read are about people I've never been "introduced" to. That's the whole point of a memoir, right? Getting to know someone. It was different in this book though. Because Kaylie Jones is the daughter of Memoirs seem to be hit and miss for me this year. When offered the opportunity to read Lies My Mother Never Told Me I jumped on it because, honestly, the title is great and it looked interesting. My mistake was not looking to see who it was about. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal. Most memoirs I read are about people I've never been "introduced" to. That's the whole point of a memoir, right? Getting to know someone. It was different in this book though. Because Kaylie Jones is the daughter of a famous writer (James Jones), there was a lot.. and I do mean a lot... of name-dropping in this book. Mostly names I'd never heard of due to the writers/actors/directors being people outside of the circle I am usually interested in. This would not have been a big deal to me, I'm always happy to expand that circle, if I hadn't felt so put off by everything she was writing. I felt as if she was writing to impress and as if she was just a bit whiny, to be honest. While I could feel sympathy for her and how she was raised, still.. she was the recipient of so many things that most of us never get to see or do. This especially struck home when, while discussing her mothers estate, she and her husband were "okay" so long as her daughter received a private education and ivy league college. Each section of the book begins with a short story told by her mother. I think these stories are where the title comes in (although I can't be absolutely sure of that). Most of the stories went right over my head or were un-interesting. The only one that got a chuckle from me was the Frank Sinatra one. I'll shelve this memoir as another in a growing group of memoirs that seems to be written for a certain niche of people. To anyone unfamiliar with James Jones' work, as I am, it just doesn't carry anything of interest.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nette

    A good read in a weird, twisted way. I ended up rooting for the author's alcoholic "monster" of a mother, who was way more intriguing and funny than her self-righteous pill of a daughter. The daughter who, by the way, accepted lots of money from her awful mom, had no compunction about living (as an adult) in mom's houses and apartments, and who left her own tiny daughter with her mom whenever she needed a babysitter (and who snatched her away only when her daughter started getting "fat" when gra A good read in a weird, twisted way. I ended up rooting for the author's alcoholic "monster" of a mother, who was way more intriguing and funny than her self-righteous pill of a daughter. The daughter who, by the way, accepted lots of money from her awful mom, had no compunction about living (as an adult) in mom's houses and apartments, and who left her own tiny daughter with her mom whenever she needed a babysitter (and who snatched her away only when her daughter started getting "fat" when grandma lets her eat an occasional burger). I hope Gloria Jones comes back from the grave and puts a curse on this ungrateful twit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Book Overview To say Kaylie Jones grew up in an interesting household is an understatement. Her father was James Jones—the acclaimed novelist renowned for his WWII books, including From Here To Eternity and The Thin Red Line (both made into movies). Her mother Gloria was a beauty (she was Marilyn Monroe's stand-in for a movie once) and a quick-witted storyteller who was both brainy and bawdy. (Some of her mother's best stories are interspersed throughout the book and make for some very interestin Book Overview To say Kaylie Jones grew up in an interesting household is an understatement. Her father was James Jones—the acclaimed novelist renowned for his WWII books, including From Here To Eternity and The Thin Red Line (both made into movies). Her mother Gloria was a beauty (she was Marilyn Monroe's stand-in for a movie once) and a quick-witted storyteller who was both brainy and bawdy. (Some of her mother's best stories are interspersed throughout the book and make for some very interesting and fun reading.) During Kaylie's childhood in Paris, she and her adopted brother Jamie live a lifestyle far from their parent's humble Midwestern roots—parties that last all night, guests who include a veritable "who's who" of the literary world (family friends included William Styron, Irwin Shaw and Willie Morris), a full-time nanny, private schools, exotic vacations. Yet Kaylie's childhood was not terribly happy. Her mother's mean streak and unreliability helped make Kaylie an uncertain and tentative child. Kaylie's father was the light of her life, but he was often "missing in action" due to his writing or being a part of the constant party that was at the center of her parents' lives. The end result was a lonely childhood filled with doubt, self-esteem issues and uncertainty. And no one in the family dared to say the forbidden word: alcoholic. When the family moved back to the United States, they settled in a literary enclave in the Hamptons. Not too long after, James Jones's health began to deteriorate (in no small part to the heavy drinking that accompanied his lifestyle), and he died when Kaylie was 16. His passing ripped a hole into Kaylie's life that was never fully mended. Although she was now struggling with her own drinking problem (yet deep in denial), Kaylie promised her father on his deathbed that she would keep her mother from drinking so much. This promise becomes an almost unbearable burden. To keep an alcoholic from drinking is an impossible task—especially when your own drinking problems are unrecognized. The toxic relationship between Gloria and Kaylie plays out over the years as they dance to the same tune over and over again ... until Kaylie acknowledges her own drinking problems and begins to realize the true depth of her mother's alcoholism and how their relationship is built on a script that casts Gloria as the all-powerful tyrant and Kaylie as the submissive, disobedient slave. When Kaylie begins her own path to recovery, her mother does everything in her power to thwart her. Kaylie slowly begins to understand that she does not need to take responsibility for her mother's drinking and that she does not need to accept her mother's opinions about her love affairs, lifestyle or career. And when Kaylie becomes a mother, she struggles valiantly to rebuild a relationship with her mother and provide her daughter with a grandmother—a Herculean task that is littered with conflict, anger, betrayal and sadness. In the end, the relationship between mother and daughter deteriorates to a point where it ceases to exist in any real form. When her mother finally dies, the only thing Kaylie feels is relief. My Thoughts Kaylie Jones has written a clear-eyed, unflinching memoir that is absolutely stunning. She has a very direct and spare writing style that suits the material well. She presents her story with a minimum of embellishment and little drama—yet you are drawn in by the strength of her writing and her story itself. Besides the obvious draw of having a famous novelist for a father and a childhood that includes frequent brushes with literary giants, Kaylie's story is most compelling for the life-long struggle she has with coming to terms with her mother's and her own alcoholism. So many memoirs feature flawed and alcoholic mothers, but I've never read one as direct and unswerving in its focus on the ugliness that drinking can bring as this one. Yet don't think this book is all doom and gloom. Humor permeates the book (particularly in her mother's stories that are interspersed throughout), and Kaylie does find moments of grace and humor even in her darkest hours. In other words, you're not going to be depressed after reading the book. In fact, I suspect most readers will come away from this memoir feeling inspired and uplifted. If Kaylie can find a path to peace, so can we. Another compelling aspect of Kaylie Jones's memoir is her struggle to find her voice as a writer while standing in her father's shadow. Throughout her career, Kaylie never feels she is good enough—that she is only granted scholarships, accepted into writing programs, and published because of who her father is. This inability to believe in herself and continual self-doubt make her easy to empathize with. I imagine that anyone who follows in the footsteps of a successful parent must almost always grapples with these types of doubts and fears. As Kaylie begins to regain her life—both by admitting she has a drinking problem and by becoming a mother—I felt her strength and confidence grow slowly but surely. One of the keys to her salvation was pursuing a black belt in tae kwon do. I was particularly drawn to this aspect of the book because I'm currently taking my son to karate classes, and I've thought of trying it myself. Hearing about Kaylie's experiences as she progresses through the various belt levels was quite inspirational to me—and it made me realize how pursuing a goal like a black belt can be a literal life-saving quest. My Final Recommendation There are so many reasons to read this memoir. First, anyone interested in American writers of the mid-20th century would be fascinated by this insider's glimpse into an exclusive literary world. This memoir features stories about Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, William Styron and many more. Interspersed with the appearances by these literary giants are brushes with Hollywood luminaries such as Kris Kristofferson and Frank Sinatra. In addition, this book serves as a mini-biography of James Jones—exploring his childhood, marriage and literary legacy. Second, I think this memoir should have a place on the bookshelf of any adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). Kaylie's struggle with her mother's alcoholism is raw, unflinching and brutal. As Kaylie herself says, so many aspects of her relationship with her mother is textbook ACOA material. If drinking plays a role in your family life, I imagine that reading this memoir would be both painful but ultimately helpful and perhaps even healing. Third, this memoir is well-written and weaves a compelling story. What more do you really need?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara Strand

    The problem is that obviously you can't help someone who doesn't recognize they have a problem and others around them think there isn't a problem. It was until Kaylie realized her own drinking is out of hand and she admits she is an alcoholic that she recognizes her mothers problem. Kaylie really struggles with the criticism she gets from her mom and she is really stifled in her own life because she dreads what she's going to get from her mom because of it. My favorite passage of the whole book The problem is that obviously you can't help someone who doesn't recognize they have a problem and others around them think there isn't a problem. It was until Kaylie realized her own drinking is out of hand and she admits she is an alcoholic that she recognizes her mothers problem. Kaylie really struggles with the criticism she gets from her mom and she is really stifled in her own life because she dreads what she's going to get from her mom because of it. My favorite passage of the whole book was: "We cathect an object narcissistically..when we experience it not as the center of its own activity but as a part of ourselves. If the object does not behave as we expect or wish, we may at times be immeasurably disappointed or offended." In my mind, I could hear my mother saying "How can you listen to such shit? You have no taste in music." My mother could never say "I don't like strawberries". For her, it was always, "How could you eat strawberries? They are the most disgusting fruit in the world." A parent suffering from narcissistic disturbances sees her child only as a mirror image of herself.... What these mothers had once failed to find in their own mothers they were able to find in their children: someone at their disposal who can be used as an echo, who can be controlled, is completely centered on them, will never desert them, and offers full attention and admiration. But , of course, a child cannot help but be a child. A child grows fussy, sometimes rejecting, sometimes demanding, easily exhausted, and exhausting. My mother had no patience for any of this. She adored me - as she was quick to announce - but she could only tolerate my presence in very small doses." I had to stop reading for two days just to take it in and digest that. It rocked my world. I couldn't believe that this is normal, really, and that there is a name for it. To turn the personal table around- my mom was one of six kids, she was the only daughter. Her mother made it very clear that she did not like my mom. At all. It's really a bizarre feeling and I can't imagine what my mom felt like. The boys were adored but my mom was treated like a slave. She is very close to her father, probably because her mother abandoned the family when the youngest boys, twins, were only two. My mom had to step into role as care taker for everyone. Growing up my mom assumed this was normal until she had my brother and I and realized it had nothing to do with my mom. It was her mother who had the problem. My mom and I have had a pretty good relationship for the most part. There have been times where I felt I was treated unfairly simply because I was the oldest and I was a girl. She wanted me to do big things with my life because I was a girl and she knew I'd face adversity simply because of what I was. And I'm glad she pushed me. But growing up, I can say I felt like anything I did wasn't really important. My parents were never the help-at-school type, take our friends to fun things, etc. It was a miracle I was ever able to have sleepovers. At the time I was angry but now I get it. It's just not who they are. I have made some decisions as an adult that my mom disagreed with me on and made it very clear I was making a huge mistake. There have been times where I felt like maybe there was something wrong with me. But as god as my witness- my mom is awesome. I love her to the moon and back and I have no right to complain because I know she did the best she could for us. And still does. And let's turn it around as me as a parent. I struggle. I'm not even going to lie. I love both of my kids equally but I feel more of a connection to Jackson. Is it because I suffered post partum depression after Olivia for her entire first year? I didn't really bond with her for the first year of her life- I was mostly crying and praying I could make it all stop. Is it because I was going through a rough time in my marriage while pregnant to Jackson? I clung to that baby like he was my lifeline. I don't know. But I know that each and every day I struggle. The non stop crying, the arguing, the fighting over the blue marker when we have 6 others on the table, the fact I never get to sit down and be old Sara? All of it plus more makes me think MAYBE I wasn't meant to be a mom. THIS is the stuff they should tell you. You should have to go through a rigorous testing to be able to have a baby. It's serious and the demands put on you are like no other. Make no mistake- one baby is easy. EASY. Put more than one kid in the mix and suddenly everything is a battle. It's hard and god help me, I don't know if I would do it again. And that? Terrifies me. And keeps me up some nights. I don't know what that makes me but I know I try to be the absolute best mom I can be. Because they deserve it. I could go for HOURS on this but I won't. I want you to get this book. If you've ever had a relationship with a parent that has been strained- please, please, please read this book. It will help you more than you know.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Luciana Musto

    This was one of those books that I couldn't put down and not just because it's a memoir. The book does start out slowly as Jones excavates her past and remembers her father, James Jones. Once she starts getting into her battle with alcoholism and her relationship with her mother, the memoir begins to shine. My favorite chapter was the one about hope, because it's hard to believe that Jones could ever pull herself together enough to not only survive, but to come out her ordeals an enlightened, po This was one of those books that I couldn't put down and not just because it's a memoir. The book does start out slowly as Jones excavates her past and remembers her father, James Jones. Once she starts getting into her battle with alcoholism and her relationship with her mother, the memoir begins to shine. My favorite chapter was the one about hope, because it's hard to believe that Jones could ever pull herself together enough to not only survive, but to come out her ordeals an enlightened, powerful woman. Jones manages to make you laugh and cry, reflecting the way life sometimes is. I loved that she embraced her struggles and learned from them, and I also love that she became exactly who she wanted to be after everything was said and done. What I took away from this book is that anything is possible if you believe you have the strength to overcome, and Jones certainly did.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Bazzett

    My first exposure to Kaylie Jones came years ago with her very autobiographical novel, A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, which I liked very much. And which was made into quite a successful Hollywood film. As the daughter of writer James Jones (whose first novel, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, firmly established him in the early 1950s as an important writer of his generation), Kaylie Jones enjoyed a rather privileged childhood in the rarefied international literary community of Paris in the 1960s. Her me My first exposure to Kaylie Jones came years ago with her very autobiographical novel, A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, which I liked very much. And which was made into quite a successful Hollywood film. As the daughter of writer James Jones (whose first novel, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, firmly established him in the early 1950s as an important writer of his generation), Kaylie Jones enjoyed a rather privileged childhood in the rarefied international literary community of Paris in the 1960s. Her memoir, LIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME, finally reveals how seriously this childhood and youth were marred by parents who were alcoholics and somewhat negligent in their parental duties. Jones's mother Gloria was perhaps most guilty in that she seemed simply incapable of exressing her love for her daughter. The author recognizes, years later, that this failing in Gloria was probably the result of neglect and abuse at the hands of her own mother, who she said she "hated." The other tragedy of Kaylie's life was the death of her famous father when she was only sixteen. The memoir is something of a tell-all, filled with names of the rich and famous from the celebrity world of the time. For example, she tells of her father's friend William Styron propositioning her, noting that "... if my father had known that Bill was going to proposition his nineteen-year-old, grief-stricken daughter, he would have beaten the living s**t out of him, sick or not." This anecdote seems to confirm the story that Anne Roiphe told of her own affair with the long-married and famously philandering Styron in her memoir, ART & MADNESS. In yet another story, Kaylie tells of meeting her father's high school sweetheart, Annis Flemming, during a visit to Robinson, Illinois, who described the young James Jones as "a gentle, fragile boy ... He was a bit of a show-off, but that's not really who he was inside. He was hurting so bad when he came back after the war ... All the boys were like that when they came back." This assessment seems to parallel certain contradictory descriptions of a young Hemingway after the the Great War. Gertrude Stein often commented that Hemingway's macho displays of bravado were an act to mask his sensitive side. (Read Lyle Larsen's STEIN & HEMINGWAY.) I had mixed feelings about this memoir. When she talks of her father and their special relationship, the book is at its best. In the second half (or more) of the book, when she begins to speak of her problems with her unloving - and unlovable -alcoholic mother, and then her own alcoholism and subsequent reform,the narrative sometimes slips into self-pity and becomes tediously repetitious. There is much of the proud mother in the author when she speaks of her daughter Eyrna, as well as pride of accomplishment in her struggles to earn her black belt. But the name-dropping later seems to become more obvious and unnecessary, slowing the pace of the book. For example, I wondered if it was really necessary, for example, in describing her father's friendship with Willie Morris, to mention that Donna Tartt and John Grisham had been students of Morris at Mississippi. And there are other similar name-dropping digressions scattered throughout the book - Winston Groom, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, etc. Being an avid reader and filmgoer, some I found interesting, but not all. There were also, however, very poignant moments which made me nearly weep, such as her sadness at watching her mother's gradual deterioration which included memory loss. I remembered my own mother describing how her mother (my grandmother) always loved to talk of the past, until one day, in her early 90s, she began to forget. My mother is 95 now, and I see it happening to her. But as a booklover and memoirist, the passage that struck home the hardest with me was a comment Jones made as she looked over the personal bookshelves of Willie Morris the day of his funeral - "My eyes drifted over the contents of Willie's study - books I did not know and photos of strangers. Never mind, I thought, Willie wrote it all down in his memoirs, and ... the books will endure. And we will always have Bill Styron's books, and Truman Capote's, and Faulkner's, and Tolstoy's books, and my father's books, and those, no matter what else, will always be worth fighting for." Books. They are indeed so important. I hope she is right. "The books will endure." - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mardel Fehrenbach

    Kaylie Jones memoir, Lies my Mother Never told Me left me stunned. In fact, it took me a little while to warm up to the book and at one point I was wondering why I was reading as the early sections seemed to be in danger of becoming just another “child of celebrity” writing about the dark underbelly of life with famous drunks. It was not that it was badly written; Jones’ direct style and sometimes shockingly spare prose serves the material well. The book is often moving and is filled with moment Kaylie Jones memoir, Lies my Mother Never told Me left me stunned. In fact, it took me a little while to warm up to the book and at one point I was wondering why I was reading as the early sections seemed to be in danger of becoming just another “child of celebrity” writing about the dark underbelly of life with famous drunks. It was not that it was badly written; Jones’ direct style and sometimes shockingly spare prose serves the material well. The book is often moving and is filled with moments of humor even in the midst of madness and despair. But as the author slowly began to find her own self, her own voice, her own place in the world I became more and more wrapped up in the book. As Kaylie begins to learn and accept that she is first the child of an alcoholic, and as she moves from this discovery onto the discovery that she herself is an alcoholic, she also learns that so much of what she has always known in life is shaped by this terrible childhood, or even in some ways this lack of having a complete childhood. Ms. Jones is very good and delving into this aspect of her own awakening, explaining it and conveying it with a very real sense. Her relationship to her alcoholic mother may be textbook, but even textbook cases are painful and often not recognized by those who are living them. Kaylie Jones brings great humanity to her journey. The journey is brutal and the story seems to be told with unflinching honesty. I think that although there is much here for any one who has grown up with an alcoholic parent, whatever the situation, this well-written, compellingly honest memoir also has much to offer any reader who is interested in trying to understand the difficulties faced by children of alcoholics, or in fact anyone whose childhood had profound impact on their ability to become their own “selves” in adulthood.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    Why do I keep on reading these memoirs written by the not so famous offspring of famous writers when most are basically the same story? Story line: famous father writer (in this case James Jones) drinks excessively as does the wife/mother causing many family "incidents" making for good famous father writer memoir material; famous father writer spends hours and hours struggling to come up with the next great novel but often fails; famous father writer has many famous writer friends and spends a l Why do I keep on reading these memoirs written by the not so famous offspring of famous writers when most are basically the same story? Story line: famous father writer (in this case James Jones) drinks excessively as does the wife/mother causing many family "incidents" making for good famous father writer memoir material; famous father writer spends hours and hours struggling to come up with the next great novel but often fails; famous father writer has many famous writer friends and spends a lot of time drinking and/or eating with them (more good famous father writer memoir material); one or more offspring of famous father writer (in this case Kaylie Jones) decides to become a writer in order to carry on the famous father writer's legacy and make him proud and to get to know and understand the famous father writer better; famous father writer's offspring struggles to cope with famous father writer's death (and with her mother both before and after his death). There you have it in a nutshell. This is Kaylie Jones's story of growing up with her father and mother, but it is so similar to, say, Susan Cheever's memoir of her father John Cheever, or Alexandra Styron's memoir of her father William Styron or memoirs written about Truman Capote or Norman Mailer, that I am finding it difficult to separate the books from each other. I do enjoy getting to know more about some of my favorite authors, but it is uncanny how similar many of these writer's lives were. Or maybe not since they were all friends and spent a lot of time together. This book is well written, but does not stand out among the famous father writer memoirs.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    This book is divided into thirds. The first third I'd definitely give 4 stars. Kaylie Jones starts each chapter with a story that her mother used to tell, and then writes beautifully of her father, the author James Jones (From Here to Eternity), and her mother and the memories of her life. She's a gifted writer and I loved gaining insight into their lives in Paris and the US. The next 2/3 of the book I'd recommend to someone dealing with an alcoholic parent perhaps. It was a sad story of her rel This book is divided into thirds. The first third I'd definitely give 4 stars. Kaylie Jones starts each chapter with a story that her mother used to tell, and then writes beautifully of her father, the author James Jones (From Here to Eternity), and her mother and the memories of her life. She's a gifted writer and I loved gaining insight into their lives in Paris and the US. The next 2/3 of the book I'd recommend to someone dealing with an alcoholic parent perhaps. It was a sad story of her relationship with her mother after her father had passed and it seemed to me as though she were writing to process her experience. There were glimpses of grace in her life to be certain, but overall I felt as though the writing derailed into a book for adult children of alcoholics. In my opinion, this should have been two different books. It's worth picking up to read the first third, but I couldn't recommend that second two thirds at all.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karol

    Kaylie Jones's chapter, City of Lights, an excerpt of her memoir published in Epiphany, was named a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2010. It is a powerful, moving, and dryly funny story about coming of age in Paris with a knockout mother and a famous father, James Jones, author of the Thin Red Line and National Book Award-winner From Here to Eternity. It is a touching memoir that Vogue named as one of the seasons best in the fall of 2009. One of the most poignant scenes is when the aut Kaylie Jones's chapter, City of Lights, an excerpt of her memoir published in Epiphany, was named a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2010. It is a powerful, moving, and dryly funny story about coming of age in Paris with a knockout mother and a famous father, James Jones, author of the Thin Red Line and National Book Award-winner From Here to Eternity. It is a touching memoir that Vogue named as one of the seasons best in the fall of 2009. One of the most poignant scenes is when the author rides her bike toward the sunset in Key West, at a crossroads after meeting the love of her life. She decides to take a new path and we route for her all the way. A heartfelt, funny, and inspiring memoir.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    The best memoir I've read since THE GLASS CASTLE. The best memoir I've read since THE GLASS CASTLE.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I didn't actually quite finish this book, but I was pretty sick of the characters. Okay, so they all like to drink. Yada, yada, yada... she doesn't drink anymore, but mommy still does. I didn't actually quite finish this book, but I was pretty sick of the characters. Okay, so they all like to drink. Yada, yada, yada... she doesn't drink anymore, but mommy still does.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    Witty, elegantly written, and totally relatable. I had no prior knowledge of Kaylie and only superficial familiarity with her father, but by the end of the book, I felt like I personally knew them. I cheered during her triumphs and grieved through her loss. Excellent book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    From my book review blog Rundpinne. 3.5 stars "Witty, heart wrenching and redemptive, Lies My Mother Never Told Me is a straightforward, raw and emotional look into the life of Kaylie Jones and her lifelong process of healing and coming into her own. Jones grew up surrounded by talented, well-educated and famous people, her father James Jones was among them, whose novels are known worldwide. Kaylie writes about her life from her childhood in Paris to present day with a dry wit and charm. At time From my book review blog Rundpinne. 3.5 stars "Witty, heart wrenching and redemptive, Lies My Mother Never Told Me is a straightforward, raw and emotional look into the life of Kaylie Jones and her lifelong process of healing and coming into her own. Jones grew up surrounded by talented, well-educated and famous people, her father James Jones was among them, whose novels are known worldwide. Kaylie writes about her life from her childhood in Paris to present day with a dry wit and charm. At times the reading is rather emotional, allowing the reader to get a real sense of just who Kaylie Jones is, but throughout most of the book, Jones keeps her guard up. I caught glimpses of her now and again (when her father died), yet even though her memoir is a frank and honest look at her life; I found it difficult to know Kaylie. I enjoyed reading Lies My Mother Never Told Me, yet not as much as I had hoped; I found the name-dropping to be distracting. I realise her life was filled with famous people yet she covered it so often it did become tiresome. I do give Jones credit however, in that she does not blame her parents for and is rather quite proud of her father’s achievements, yet wants to become famous herself on her own merits. On the surface, Lies My Mother Never Told Me appears to be a memoir about a privileged, yet verbally abused child, raised by alcoholics, and to an extent it is. However, digging deeper the reader will uncover that as the memoir progresses so does the depth and breadth of the messages Jones is trying to convey to her readers. Jones is a talented storywriter herself, and if a reader is looking for a memoir about alcoholism, recovery, and redemption, then Lies My Mother Never Told Me may be an excellent choice."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amantha

    Personally I found the first third of this memoir to be slow, with moments of somewhat interesting, if generally emotionally vapid memories. But I think now that the first third is acceptable to set up the emotional knockout that constitutes the second two thirds. The latter really struck a chord with me. I cried more than a few times throughout my day-long reading, and no, I did not grow up around alcoholics. I think we all have our scars, though, many of which have been acquired through childh Personally I found the first third of this memoir to be slow, with moments of somewhat interesting, if generally emotionally vapid memories. But I think now that the first third is acceptable to set up the emotional knockout that constitutes the second two thirds. The latter really struck a chord with me. I cried more than a few times throughout my day-long reading, and no, I did not grow up around alcoholics. I think we all have our scars, though, many of which have been acquired through childhood. This memoir was very moving to me as someone who suffered through moments of scarring as a child, as well as as an aspiring novelist (reading her experiences with great novelists leaves me feeling envy and wonder. Even the negatives. As she implies, one can tend to think of authors as impeccable, extraordinary people and forget that being a flawed human is what allowed them to so precisely move us with their writing). I especially appreciated not only Kaylie's attempt to understand her relationship with her mother (did she love me? Was I to blame for some of our issues?) but also her own struggles as a mother. Her own mistakes. Wanting to let her daughter have a relationship with her grandmother. Wanting to protect her daughter from the scarring she'd experienced, and to some extent, failing. This is so real; so tragically, humanly, accurate. I loved it. It made me feel a little better about my own childhood, relationships, and future. It's okay to be scared and confused and hurt. It's not okay to freeze up, quit, and passively let the offenses keep coming. A beautiful personal journey, very much worth sharing. I appreciated being offered a peek into her world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jane Hammons

    This is a fascinating book about Kaylie Jones's struggle with alcoholism and with two alcoholic parents: one James Jones, a famous writer; the other, Gloria Jones--beautiful, vivacious and cruel. One of the things I appreciate about this book is the clarity and honesty of Jones's voice. Given that she grew up in Paris and New York and was often in the company of William Styron, Norman Mailer, and other actors and celebrities, it must have been tempting to make that the substance of the book. But This is a fascinating book about Kaylie Jones's struggle with alcoholism and with two alcoholic parents: one James Jones, a famous writer; the other, Gloria Jones--beautiful, vivacious and cruel. One of the things I appreciate about this book is the clarity and honesty of Jones's voice. Given that she grew up in Paris and New York and was often in the company of William Styron, Norman Mailer, and other actors and celebrities, it must have been tempting to make that the substance of the book. But Jones story is not one of fame and celebrity, though she does talk about her own writing and her relationships with her parents' circle as she became an adult. The book is really about surviving a catastrophic childhood and learning to live with the people who love her (by the end you thank god for her husband and daughter) and let go of those who aren't able to. Much of it is heartbreaking, but it is never sentimental. And it is always believable (something I value and insist on in memoir--which is why I don't read a lot of them).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I have never felt the need to read a memoir, but there was something about the girl on the cover with her adorable wool coat.... Kaylie Jones is the daughter of WWII author James Jones. Her childhood was a life of watching beautiful people like Lauren Bacall, Willie Morris and Norman Mailer sip cocktails at her parents parties until the sun came up. Her memoir doesn't search for answers, she doesn't blame her parents or resent them while telling her own story either. It is simply a beautifully wr I have never felt the need to read a memoir, but there was something about the girl on the cover with her adorable wool coat.... Kaylie Jones is the daughter of WWII author James Jones. Her childhood was a life of watching beautiful people like Lauren Bacall, Willie Morris and Norman Mailer sip cocktails at her parents parties until the sun came up. Her memoir doesn't search for answers, she doesn't blame her parents or resent them while telling her own story either. It is simply a beautifully written book for someone who enjoys the romanticized aura of the American Arts & Literature crowd from the 50s through today. Another benefit of this book was Ms. Jones gives references to all of the reading that has inspired her and her father as well as other noted scholars. Im talking classics, like From here to eternity (Jones), to contemporary novels on her reading lists while at Unvisersities. Be aware, you might start this book and by the end realize you have at least five years worth of reading you feel like you abosultely HAVE to do right now......

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Kaylie's memoir is about the effects of her childhood amongst literary giants (her father James Jones and his friends & contemporaries) and the perpetual spiraling control her mother's influence had on her during her entire life. The tale traces the way alcohol colors most memories, either through Kaylie's own abuse and eventual recovery or through her mother's constant losing battle. She weaves the story of her life in a way that makes it easy to read and feel along with her, especially once sh Kaylie's memoir is about the effects of her childhood amongst literary giants (her father James Jones and his friends & contemporaries) and the perpetual spiraling control her mother's influence had on her during her entire life. The tale traces the way alcohol colors most memories, either through Kaylie's own abuse and eventual recovery or through her mother's constant losing battle. She weaves the story of her life in a way that makes it easy to read and feel along with her, especially once she has her own daughter and can witness her mother's interactions with Eyrna to see what it looks like from an outside perspective while still having insider knowledge. The constant conflict of love, guilt, shame, and anger--all enhanced at different points by alcohol--drive through the heart of Kaylie's journey, until she finally learns to embrace these experiences and to let go of that which she could never control herself.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Cunningham

    So far I am interested. I have read the part about her father with a fair amount of interest (her father was famous author), but I am ready to get more details on HER life.... Ok...this book was written by a friend of one of my good friends....but I gotta say, I would NOT call it a memoir. Memoir brings with it a literary feel; a book that is well written and meaningful. This book is highly repetitive and filled with gratuitous name dropping...I pushed through to the end just to see if it improve So far I am interested. I have read the part about her father with a fair amount of interest (her father was famous author), but I am ready to get more details on HER life.... Ok...this book was written by a friend of one of my good friends....but I gotta say, I would NOT call it a memoir. Memoir brings with it a literary feel; a book that is well written and meaningful. This book is highly repetitive and filled with gratuitous name dropping...I pushed through to the end just to see if it improved, but someone she just made me feel sorry for the mother who was a crazy, mean alcoholic....frustrating read...but I do know others who liked it. I think if I had expected a biography/autobiography I would have been ok. Also, if you are interested in the writer James Jones, you would like this book--he's her dad.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vilo

    This is a memoir of a woman who finally realizes she is an alcoholic and that alcohol and emotional abuse are central features of the family she grew up in. At least half the book is devoted to the journey of complete recovery--beautifully describing finding God and developing enough self confidence (partly through tae kwon do) to be at peace. One thing I really loved was finding out how many people contributed to the author's well being--how powerful we can be when extending a loving, honest fr This is a memoir of a woman who finally realizes she is an alcoholic and that alcohol and emotional abuse are central features of the family she grew up in. At least half the book is devoted to the journey of complete recovery--beautifully describing finding God and developing enough self confidence (partly through tae kwon do) to be at peace. One thing I really loved was finding out how many people contributed to the author's well being--how powerful we can be when extending a loving, honest friendship. It also addresses the problem of trying to love someone who cannot really love you. (note: a lot of strong language was part of her family's culture)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dale Stonehouse

    The one thing that prevented this from 5 stars is my own personal dislike of overly codependent behavior. The only thing I knew about the Jones family was that her father James wrote From Here to Eternity and Some Came Running, both of which were made into interesting Hollywood productions. What I learned is that James Jones wrote these based on his own experience, that he hated war and killing with great passion, and before there was a diagnostic basis, he suffered from PTSD. He died of heart d The one thing that prevented this from 5 stars is my own personal dislike of overly codependent behavior. The only thing I knew about the Jones family was that her father James wrote From Here to Eternity and Some Came Running, both of which were made into interesting Hollywood productions. What I learned is that James Jones wrote these based on his own experience, that he hated war and killing with great passion, and before there was a diagnostic basis, he suffered from PTSD. He died of heart disease in 1977, and most of the book is dominated by the author's stormy relationship with her mother. Some of it is not easy reading, but plowing through it is worthwile.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I probably shouldn't have read this book about an alcoholic and emotional abusive mother during Mother's Day week. Kaylie Jones is the daughter of James Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity, who dies when she is 16 years old. It turns out that in their terrible relationship, one of the few things that Kaylie has in common with her mother, Gloria, is alcoholism. Kaylie comes to term with her alcoholism and wants her mother to stop drinking. Doesn't work. I think that this memoir would be mo I probably shouldn't have read this book about an alcoholic and emotional abusive mother during Mother's Day week. Kaylie Jones is the daughter of James Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity, who dies when she is 16 years old. It turns out that in their terrible relationship, one of the few things that Kaylie has in common with her mother, Gloria, is alcoholism. Kaylie comes to term with her alcoholism and wants her mother to stop drinking. Doesn't work. I think that this memoir would be most meaningful to other children of alcoholics.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Wasn't sure why I picked up this book but I did and I don't regret. It was not an uplifting book but I found I kept wanting to read about this horrible mother/daughter relationship. Maybe because it left me feeling so glad I am not an alcoholic and was not raised by any! I did wish Kaylie would have grown some balls earlier on but what can I say? And it did peak my interest about alcoholics and the cycle it brings out in a family- often a generational cycle. If you liked The Glass Castle, you mi Wasn't sure why I picked up this book but I did and I don't regret. It was not an uplifting book but I found I kept wanting to read about this horrible mother/daughter relationship. Maybe because it left me feeling so glad I am not an alcoholic and was not raised by any! I did wish Kaylie would have grown some balls earlier on but what can I say? And it did peak my interest about alcoholics and the cycle it brings out in a family- often a generational cycle. If you liked The Glass Castle, you might like this!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roussie

    Kaylie Jones is James Jones' daughter (he wrote From Here to Eternity among other WW2 books). Her early life was populated by all the great writers of the time (Mailer, Vonnegut, Styron, etc.). Her mother, however, was an incredibly cruel alcoholic. The first half of the book is a fascinating account of her high-living parents; the second half a less compelling account of her own alcoholism and her mother's descent into alcoholic insanity. Kaylie Jones is James Jones' daughter (he wrote From Here to Eternity among other WW2 books). Her early life was populated by all the great writers of the time (Mailer, Vonnegut, Styron, etc.). Her mother, however, was an incredibly cruel alcoholic. The first half of the book is a fascinating account of her high-living parents; the second half a less compelling account of her own alcoholism and her mother's descent into alcoholic insanity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Gut wrenching. A child of privilege raised with every trapping of wealth by a loving, troubled father and an abusive alcoholic mother. The cruelty she endures at her mother's tongue is unspeakable. The daughter repeats the sins of the mother and becomes an abuser herself. A sad, crushing portrait of life with a chronic alcoholic who seemingly had everything but threw it all away and nearly destroyed her daughter. Gut wrenching. A child of privilege raised with every trapping of wealth by a loving, troubled father and an abusive alcoholic mother. The cruelty she endures at her mother's tongue is unspeakable. The daughter repeats the sins of the mother and becomes an abuser herself. A sad, crushing portrait of life with a chronic alcoholic who seemingly had everything but threw it all away and nearly destroyed her daughter.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This memoir is about twice as long as it should be. Jones gets monotonous at times, refusing to set boundaries with her alcoholic, verbally abusive mother, even at the expense of her own daughter. From personal experience, I found this tedious and maddening. I enjoyed the literary references, but Jones definitely idealized her father, every bit as much an alcoholic as her mother. Granted, her mother was viciously cruel, and her father was not.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    "He explained that when we judge ourselves, we can't react cleanly. 'Face every obstacle without fear,' he said, 'because obstacles are gifts of learning.'" "He explained that when we judge ourselves, we can't react cleanly. 'Face every obstacle without fear,' he said, 'because obstacles are gifts of learning.'"

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