A Fine Romance

A Fine Romance

by Candice Bergen


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A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen

In this New York Times bestseller, acclaimed actress Candice Bergen “shows how to do a memoir right...The self-possessed, witty, and down-to-earth voice that made Bergen’s first memoir a hit when it was published in 1984 has only been deepened by life’s surprises” (The New York Times Book Review).

“Candice Bergen is unflinchingly honest” (The Washington Post), and in A Fine Romance she describes her first marriage at age thirty-four to famous French director Louis Malle; her overpowering love for her daughter, Chloe; the unleashing of her inner comic with Murphy Brown; her trauma over Malle’s death; her joy at finding new love; and her pride at watching Chloe blossom.

In her decidedly nontraditional marriage to the insatiably curious Louis, Bergen takes readers on world travels to the sets where each made films. Pregnant with Chloe at age thirty-nine, this mature primigravida also recounts a journey through motherhood that includes plundering the Warner Bros. costume closets for Halloween getups and never leaving her ever-expanding menagerie out of the fun. She offers priceless, behind-the-scenes looks at Murphy Brown, from caterwauling with Aretha Franklin to the surreal experience of becoming headline news when Dan Quayle took exception to her character becoming a single mother. Bergen tackles familiar rites of passage with moving honesty: the rigors of caring for a spouse in his final illness, getting older, and falling in love again after she was tricked into a blind date.

By the time the last page is turned, “we’re all likely to be wishing Bergen herself—funny, insightful, self-deprecating, flawed (and not especially concerned about that), and slugging her way through her older years with bemused determination—was living next door” (USA TODAY).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476746098
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 163,801
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Candice Bergen’s film credits include The Sand Pebbles, Carnal Knowledge, Starting Over (for which she received an Oscar nomination), and Miss Congeniality. On television, she made headlines as the star of Murphy Brown, for which she won five Emmys and two Golden Globes. She later starred with James Spader and William Shatner in the critically acclaimed series Boston Legal. A gifted writer, Bergen has penned numerous articles and a play, as well as her first bestselling memoir, Knock Wood, and its follow-up, A Fine Romance.

Read an Excerpt

A Fine Romance

  • It was midway through October 1985, as I waddled in a huge plaid tent dress through the ground floor of Bergdorf’s. I’d put on almost fifty pounds since becoming pregnant. A woman kept peering at me, looking away, looking back. Finally she approached. “You know, you have Candice Bergen’s face.”

    “But not her body,” I said.

    Old friends saw me lurching along the street and burst out laughing. I scowled back. Would this baby be born in a hospital or at SeaWorld?

    The due date was the second half of October. I’d been hoping she’d arrive on Halloween, which was the day after my husband Louis Malle’s birthday. As the date grew closer, then passed, I went in for a checkup. Whoever was in there, she was hyperactive, that much was sure. She somersaulted and flipped around. Then she landed wrong. Her feet were tangled in the umbilical cord and she was upside down and feet first. There was a high risk of her cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients. A risk of brain damage.

    My obstetrician, the ironically named Dr. Cherry, was an affable, easygoing guy, but he grew concerned after the recent sonogram. “We need to think about scheduling a Cesarean,” he told me. Meanwhile, I was to go home and stay in bed with my feet up. No activity. That would be interesting, as Louis and I lived in a two-story loft and were having people for dinner that night.

    That was the beginning of the real bonding. Until that point, I’d kept a bit of distance, thinking of the baby as a kind of invader in my comfortable routines. I’d dragged my feet about preparing her room. No longer. It was ready, wallpapered in tiny pink rosebuds. I’d bought a white rocker and a white crib with pink ticking on the mattress and bumpers and found a pink Kit-Cat clock whose eyes and tail moved rhythmically back and forth.

    Now the Alien was in jeopardy. I could not lose her.

    Louis and I had been invited to a state dinner at the White House in honor of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It was the big wingding of the fall, and the royal couple was causing quite the stir. It was possible we could make it if the baby was prompt. The dinner was November 6. I figured we could take the train with the newborn and a baby nurse and stay in DC for a night. I would look like a blimp, but we could attend.

    As the date inched closer and there was no sign of a baby, I called Nancy Reagan, who has been a family friend all my life, and apologized for the delayed response. “Mrs. Reagan, she’s not moving,” I told her. She couldn’t have been sweeter. “Well, they’d love you to be there, Candy. Let us know when you can. Of course we understand.”

    What I didn’t understand was where this baby was. What was keeping her?

    At almost two and a half weeks past the due date, Dr. Cherry told me he’d decided to extract the baby by cesarean in three days; he was afraid she might have “exhausted prepartal nutrients.” Apparently my amniotic fluid was drying up. She was running out of snacks.

    The Kit-Cat clock was ticking. I was not in the market for abdominal surgery. I wanted to have this baby naturally. More or less. I did the few primitive things that were suggested to induce labor. Three of my closest girlfriends took me out to dinner and I ate the spiciest things on the menu, hoping to bring on contractions. Sweat streamed down my tiny head and pooled under my newly enlarged breasts. Nothing. I heaved my 180 pounds sixteen floors up to my apartment to see if that would get her moving. Zilch. Louis was giving me a wide berth; I was getting testy.

    Louis and I went to Mount Sinai Hospital the next day, November 8, 1985. The surgery was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. We were shown to a pre-op room and I undressed and got into a gown. They gave me oxytocin as a last gasp to start contractions. No dice. The baby was dug in. Dr. Cherry came in with the anesthesiologist and introduced him. He had clammy hands and a mustache that screamed “Shave me!” This was not a guy who seemed cool under pressure. He recognized me and appeared nervous. This was the guy who was going to give me the dreaded epidural? Women had been warning me about this shot, which is given in the base of the spine and is generally successful at blocking pain, except when it results in paralysis. The anesthesiologist told me to curl into the fetal position, which I did, but I was babbling incessantly, compulsively. I am not a good patient. The anesthesiologist also seemed stressed. He mentioned a movie I was in. I was freezing and shivering and the needle looked like a harpoon. Finally, he managed to give me the epidural, and I was wheeled down the battleship gray hall into the operating room. Louis walked beside me in his gown.

    The nurses erected a discreet sheet to screen any activity below the waist. Louis sat by my head. They started to swab me but I could feel it, and then I really panicked. The upside of the epidural was, I wasn’t paralyzed. The downside was, I wasn’t numb. Hey, guys, I’m not numb! I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING! This was a definite crick in the procedure. “Give her a shot of Valium and administer another spinal,” someone said. I resumed the fetal position. The anesthesiologist came at me with another harpoon. I wondered, Is this really the best guy you got here?!? Things got blurry; then I got a third epidural. Enough medication for a rhino, which in a sense I had become. I was groggy beyond belief, but I could still feel a prickling in my legs. I might have heard the word paresthesia. Was I going to feel it when the surgeon cut through my abdomen? Because I would not be okay with that. I was stoned and ranting and raging.

    “Do you feel this?” Dr. Cherry asked as he jabbed a pin in my leg. And then . . . murmuring, movement, a team at work. Louis watched it as the director he was. The curtain set up. People beyond it performing together.

    And suddenly a cry. A really loud cry. That would be my daughter crying. Bellowing. All nine pounds two ounces of her had been pried out of my ample abdomen, where she’d made a home—carpet, armchair, reading lamp, sound system—she was not happy about moving out. Now the trouble begins, I thought. Schools. Mean girls. Boyfriends. SATs. Now it hits the fan.

    Mademoiselle Chloe Malle. I heard Louis singing softly to her in French: “À la claire fontaine . . .” She’d been wrapped like a burrito and he held her gently in his arms, crooning. She relaxed and quieted, scrutinizing him. I was sobbing. So much emotion. So many drugs.

    She was placed in my arms now, cautiously, since I was so medicated that I was completely gaga. As if I would let anything happen. Again, the tears streamed down my cheeks. My baby girl. My baby girl. Who knew love was this huge? All-enveloping. All-encompassing. My baby girl.

    My God, I can’t believe I almost didn’t do this. It was clearly the beginning of my life.

    In the recovery room upstairs, Chloe was brought back to me, steamed and cleaned, fierce and irresistible.

    Ali MacGraw and Anne Sterling, two of my closest friends, had been waiting in the hospital lobby. They came up to meet Chloe and give me a pat on the head. I was having trouble speaking clearly, what with my dozens of epidurals, plus I was still weeping. But I was aglow.

    Chloe is here. Chloe is here. I was happier than I ever thought possible. Chloe is here.

  • Table of Contents

    The Arrival 1

    Louis at Last 7

    The Cutest Cactus 49

    Murphy: Mike Wallace in a Dress 91

    Time Marshes On 215

    Au Revoir L'enfant 335

    Acknowledgments 349

    Customer Reviews

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    A Fine Romance 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I totally love this book.  It's like one of your close friends is talking to you and telling you about her life, so far.  I totally recommend it for anyone who is looking for that "special" book to read that is "unputdownable"
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Really enjoyed the book. Found myself laughing outloud
    lde More than 1 year ago
    Easy read. I felt as if the author was talking to me over a cuppa tea. Being close to the same age as Candice Bergen is a bonus. We both are finally accepting the fact we are no longer slim and trim. Health has become an important issue. I enjoyed reading about the relationship with her daughter. Children are special from the moment of birth and beyond. Also, I am so happy she found love again after losing her beloved Louis. Marsh sounds like a perfect match. Good for you Candice.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this book very much. It is not a great literary piece or anything but very enjoyable.
    lovesagoodbookSD More than 1 year ago
    I really loved this book. It's basically a Biography of Candice Bergen. It gives the reader insight into a privileged life, but Candice has substance as a person and is not at all superficial. It's well-written and hard to put down. I happen to be a fan of Candice and therefore, found her story of interest. I think women would enjoy this book more than most men because it is told from a female point of view.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Just toatally enjoyed this book. Had a hard time putting it down.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The writing is warm, expansive — and cheerfully vague. We are invited to listen to Ms. Bergen’s memories of being on the inside of good times in LA and New York and France. She has enjoyed much, loved much, and lost much, too. She is friendly, and self- deprecating — and conveys that for all she has had, she is still seeking. It’s an expensive party over which she graciously presides — maybe wait for a library copy. Candice Bergen engages the reader with gossipy, frank, girl talk; dropping the obligatory F-bomb, but mercifully keeping most private things private. I felt as if we were speeding along a well-traveled path, lanes in her memories upon which she loves to travel. Ms Bergen points out her best-loved places along the way, as we go back and forth and back and forth in time. Clearly, she treasures her daughter, and her husbands and the professional opportunities she has enjoyed. It is like listening to a very rich – in many senses of that word – woman who offers tidbits about the rich and talented, their mansions, the clothes, the jewels, and how wonderful it was to have it all, even the heartbreaking moments. Her chapter reflecting on the passing of her friends and acquaintances is poignant; she takes an accurate portrait of many of our generation – the Baby Boomers, we who did not reckon on growing old: Among my generation, there is a sense of panic creeping into the eyes . . . It’s the Death Thing and the reality of its gathering focus . . . We refused to grow up. To grow old. But it isn’t working so well anymore. Because we are growing old – the ones who aren’t already dead . . . They see The End in sight and they do not like it one bit. How do you do that gracefully? With acceptance? Without religion? How does one come to terms with it? Discovering the imminence of Death – and disability – is sobering – no, it’s scary – even on good days! Ms.Bergen does not believe in God – though both she and her husband celebrate the holidays of their respective religion’s cultures. She did say she was open to persuasion. By whom and how will she be persuaded? In His time, I pray God brings her the best messenger – for Candice Bergen is a disarmingly candid writer who shares pleasant anecdotes from times many of us remember fondly. I wish Ms. Bergen could have known Kara Tippets*, a woman almost one-half Ms.Bergen’s age, who came to terms with disability and death and showed many who grew to know and love her how we may greet The End – Gracefully, without religion, but with God – who takes hold of our right hand, and holds us fast though few of us wish to come to terms with it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Simply said, just a beautiful, beautiful book.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a sweet,funny book. While reading it i could hear Ms. Bergen's voice. Have been a big fan sense Murphy Brown.Never missed an episode.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Its stupid!!!!!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Are you totally sure you totally love the book? Um, like totally?