Borrowed Finery: A Memoirby Paula Fox
"Born in the twenties to nomadic, bohemian parents, Paula Fox is left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage. Rescued at the last moment, she is taken into the care of a poor but cultivated Congregational minister in upstate New York. But her parents soon resurface. Her handsome father is a hard-drinking raconteur and screenwriter (among his credits is The Last Train to… See more details below
"Born in the twenties to nomadic, bohemian parents, Paula Fox is left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage. Rescued at the last moment, she is taken into the care of a poor but cultivated Congregational minister in upstate New York. But her parents soon resurface. Her handsome father is a hard-drinking raconteur and screenwriter (among his credits is The Last Train to Madrid, called by Graham Greene "the worst movie I ever saw") who is, for young Paula, "part ally, part betrayer." Her mother, a frightening, infrequent presence, is given to icy bursts of temper that punctuate a deep indifference. How, Fox wonders, is this woman "enough of an organic being to have carried me in her belly?"" Never sharing more than a few scattered moments with their daughter, Fox's parents shuttle her from one exotic place to another. In New York City she lives with her passive Spanish grandmother. In Cuba she wanders about freely on a sugarcane plantation owned by a wealthy distant relative. In Florida she is left with a housekeeper she has known only for days. In California she finds herself cast away on the dismal margins of Hollywood. Throughout, famous actors and literary celebrities glitteringly appear and then fade away - John Wayne, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Maxwell Perkins, Orson Welles, James Cagney, and Stella Adler, to name a few. The thread binding Fox's wanderings is the "borrowed finery" of the title - a few pieces of clothing, almost always lent by kindhearted strangers, that offer Fox a rare glimpse of permanency.
“Pointillist in detail, lapidary in method and brutal in effect...an eloquent, disturbing memoir.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Original and elegant...A celebration of resilience--both of character and of the memoir form.” Sandra Scofield, Chicago Tribune
“Restrained yet unsparing...Fox is an accomplished writer, with a gift for penetrating to the heart of complex feelings and complicated situations.” Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times
- Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.44(w) x 10.54(h) x 0.60(d)
Read an Excerpt
From Borrowed Finery:
My parents returned from Europe after a sojourn of three or four years, when I was eleven. They slid into my sight standing on the deck of a small passenger ship out of Marseille that docked in New York City on the Hudson River. They were returning home after their adventures, the most recent being their flight a few weeks earlier from the Balearic Island of Ibiza during the early days of the Spanish Civil War.
It had been years since I'd seen them. They were as handsome as movie stars. Smoke trailed like a festive streamer from the cigarette my mother held between two fingers of her right hand. When she realized we'd spotted her, she waved once and her head was momentarily wreathed in smoke. The gangplank was lowered thunderously across the abyss between the deck and the pier. Passengers began to trickle across it. Suddenly my parents were standing before us, a steamer trunk like a third presence between them. I knew that trunk; I'd seen it in Provincetown years earlier.
Meet the Author
Paula Fox is the author of the memoirs The Coldest Winter and Borrowed Finery, five novels, and a Newberry Award-winning children's book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
- Brooklyn, New York
- Date of Birth:
- April 22, 1923
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- Attended Columbia University
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
What a wonderful book. Sometimes very sad, but a great story. Must read.