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Some of My Lives: A Scrapbook Memoir

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  134 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Rosamond Bernier has lived an unusually full life—remarkable for its vividness and diversity of experience—and she has known many (one is tempted to say all) of the greatest artists and composers of the twentieth century.

In Some of My Lives, Bernier has made a kind of literary scrapbook from an extraordinary array of writings, ranging from diary entries to her many contrib
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 470)
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Jul 17, 2014 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
"I found it very soothing when I had a migraine to use the ocelot as a pillow under my head." p. 33.

This is the point at which I probably should have stopped reading this book, but instead I read the whole thing. This woman's life seems to have been quite interesting and to have intersected with several famous people's lives, particularly artists and composers. Unfortunately for readers, the book is not nearly so interesting as the life it is trying to share. She tries, and she's in her 90s, so
Feb 18, 2012 Amari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, biography
Truly horrible. Boring, self-indulgent, with no sense of what is of interest to the reader. I love the work of so many of the artists included that I've read on longer than I've wanted to, hoping to glean something meaningful about them. However, it's just the Rosamond show, all about proving how wonderful and irresistible the great artists thought she was. Well, I think she should be resisted at all turns. How they managed to put up with her is a mystery.

How can one write in such a shamelessly
May 25, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rosamond Bernier knew everyone who was anyone. As the daughter of a well-to-do family in Philadelphia, she grew up surrounded by famous musicians. As a young woman, she became friends with composers and artists. She then got a job for Vogue that sent her to Paris, where she eventually started her own magazine devoted to the arts, and became chums with the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Miro, Giacometti, etc. etc. etc. For those who love to read about the lives of the rich and famous, this is all gre ...more
Dec 26, 2011 Judith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been good if someone else had written it. Here we have the story of Rosamond Bernier, who co-founded a literary journal in 1955 in Paris. As such, she met and interacted with some of the most interesting artists of that century: Picasso, Miro, Georges Braque, and not just artists but authors, designers, musicians. These weren't limited to quick meetings, but were close friendships providing intimate knowledge of their family lives. Fascinating stuff, but so boringly told tha ...more
Eva Gerald
By the third chapter of the book I got the impression that the reason so many fascinating artists kept company with Rosamond Bernier is because not a one of them would be threatened by the possibility that she might be more interesting than they. A very dull book and, at times, a chore to read. I hung in there because every now and then there might be an illuminating sentence about a particular artist, easily found when skimming the text.
Jenny McPhee
Nov 07, 2011 Jenny McPhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eloise Grows Up: The Charmed Life of the Charming Rosamond Bernier

Like that clever, witty, audacious inhabitant of the Plaza Hotel, the notorious children’s book heroine Eloise, Rosamond Bernier acquits herself in every situation, no matter how extraordinary, with a grand measure of aplomb. Zelig style, Bernier cruised through the greater part of the twentieth century hobnobbing with the western hemisphere’s best and brightest artists, writers, and composers while building her own successful car
Hayley Dyer
I really dislike Rosamond Bernier's writing style - at once it is both choppy and overly wordy. The editor for this book did her no favors - the stories are not quite arranged in chronological order and some facts are told over and over from story to story - definitely not necessary and definitely annoying. Lastly, Rosamond writes with her nose in the air and the attitude that she shits rainbows. She's the ultimate self-proclaimed "It Girl" and I did not find her to be a likeable woman. That bei ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely book. But (and I can't believe I'm about to say this about a book by a distinguished art critic and Vogue editor) I wish it had had firmer editing. While it's obviously designed as a scrapbook, I wish it was a bit more organized, a bit more structured, and more cohesive, showing more of the progression of her life, career, and acquaintances, rather than disjointed chapters about this artist and that musician. The end chapter where she tells the brief story of her husband's life ...more
Jun 22, 2014 Sketchbook rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Scandalously stupid book from FSG. (Natch).
May 27, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great for getting a sense of 20th century artists' personalities. She has a dry sense of humor and when she makes an understatement, it's delightfully shocking.

However, it takes perseverance to keep at it and there's a lot that is annoying about it: especially how much everybody loves her to pieces and gives her everything she asks for and more. Maybe that's just me being bitchy, but hey!
Jan 15, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Oh to have lived Rosamond Bernier's lives, any or all of them. She knew artists from Frieda Kahlo to Max Ernst. Composers and couturiers willingly sat for interviews. She started her own contemporary art magazine in Paris. I swoon to think of the majesty of it all. To top it off, she was to become a famous art lecturer for the Museum of Modern Art. If only....
Mar 18, 2012 Tara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bland writing. The random pieces on the fascinating people she met were fairly interesting, but it felt more like name dropping versus warm stories told over, say, dinner and drinks (which I suppose I was hoping for).
Carrie Engerrand
I read the novel upon meeting her, after a lecture she gave. She is a fascinating lady to read about. I highly recommend this book to anyone. Much more interesting than your average biography.
Dec 08, 2015 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographymemoir
Bernier has a dry, delicate, almost deadpan style that reminds me of Joan Didion.

When reminiscing about the menagerie of animals she had in Mexico, she writes:

I had one problem animal, a kinkajou. It drank. It was nocturnal and spent its days in the darkened quarters I had provided for the night shift. At the cocktail hour, it would come swinging along the beams above the terrace bar by its long prehensile tail, drop onto the bar, to the dismay of the human customers, and grab a glass. I am not
Mar 09, 2012 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rosamond Bernier was born in 1916 and has led a remarkable life, living in Mexico in her 20's, then moving to Paris where she first worked for Vogue and then founded the Art Magazine L'Oeil. When she returned to the U.S. in the mid-1970's she began a career lecturing on the arts which culminated when she retired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008 at the age of 92. Her memoir tells the story of artists she came to know along the way. Many of these relationships happened by pure coinciden ...more

What an amazing life she led with an array of famous people orbiting around her . I was curious whether her money, charm, or intelligence won over so many irascible characters as she seemed not particularly attractive enough on her own. Overall I was disappointed with the scattered chapters which often jumped forwards and backwards, but it seemed better to divide by person, rather than time period and when I considered her age, it seemed appropriate. I am slightly curious how many are her words
Carol Wakefield
Mar 17, 2012 Carol Wakefield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book by an intelligent and entertaining woman. Bernier was born in the USA, traveled between the us and Europe, spent her young adult life in Mexico, from there to Paris where she wrote for vogue, then published her own magazine of the arts and style, eventually ending in the us again where she lectured in a variety of venues on the arts. She interviewed and became friends with an amazing number of artists, authors, fashion designers and musicians. the book details the personalities ...more
Apr 12, 2016 Johns rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
View one of her very famous and thoroughly engrossing art lectures on DVD and you'll start to appreciate what an amazing life Ms. Bernier has led. This book contains some of the more noteworthy glimpses of famous 20th century artists.
Cyndie Todd
May 02, 2012 Cyndie Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is akin to taking tea with a dear old wordly auntie who regales you with her stories of world travel and renowned associates. You're astonished by the places she's been, the people she's known, the times in which she lived, yet she remains completely unaffected, except to admit that she was pretty lucky a time or two. Manage your expectations about the writing because this book is not meant to be a highly polished autobiography. I imagine that the only way anyone was going to g ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Susie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a scrapbook approach-which does jump from time period to time period--but what a life!She was one of the founders of the art magazine L'OEIL which meant she met so many artists musicians fashion designers etc.
Jan 24, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book is not going to win any literary prizes, Rosamond is such a compelling and beloved figure that it's just enjoyable to sit back and absorb the amazing facts of her life, the people she knew, and her professional accomplishments. I had the good fortune to meet her on several occasions - she even took me out to lunch once! - so I read the book with her voice in my head. Many facts are repeated which sometimes makes it seem like a dotty but fabulous old aunt is telling you her life s ...more
Interesting content but tone is sometimes arrogant. If each person’s life could be characterized as a dessert, Bernier’s life sounds like a small ramekin of decadent creme brulee. It’s interesting to see how she put her connections to use to produce a creative and international career, surrounded by the top artists, musicians, and fashion designers of the time - a very culturally rich, intellectual stimulated life. As she recounted her friendships with various artists, it was interesting to read ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Sar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
this book had so much potential, full of unique and interesting experiences and people, but, ohmygoodness, it was told horribly. the title should have tipped me off as, indeed, it is written exactly like a scrapbook, little bits here and there, but with little to tie them together or get an idea of timeline. within a chapter, the commentary shifts from subject to subject until you have no idea what the original intent was. i wanted to love this book, but ultimately i made it 13 chapters in and h ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Meaghan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Added this to my list due to the "Downton Abbey" effect.

I'm finding that Downton has really opened up Edwardian England in a whole new way. It's truly fascinating to learn about the Manor house in England and how at the turn of the century how moments like the Titanic sinking and the influx of American capital in the form of advantageous marriages then plowed right into World War I and life as the aristocracy knew it changed in a relatively short amount of time.

This and The Sisters are two boo
Feb 05, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really recommend if you enjoy bits and pieces of artists lives.. and the unusual life carved out by someone self taught w/ a terrific boost from parents (Jewish immigrant father and English mother) w/ music and talented persons all around growing up in Phil.. then Mex., Paris, NY and all around the world, too..she knew them all.. Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Braque, Ernst, Giacometti, Pierre Matisse, Copeland, Robbins, Diego & Frieda, Orozco, Bourgeois, Hockney, H. Moore, Chanel, married art crit ...more
Oct 15, 2013 Carolamex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-read
This woman's life was amazing. The fact that she got to meet and become friends with SO MANY interesting, important and absolutely fascinating artist of the times makes me so jealous! But I have to say I would have liked more continuity and a little bit more backstory. We jump from one to another. At times, it's a bit repetitive and a bit arrogant but a very interesting read. It is a collection of stories that feel put together and not edited as an ensemble. But definitely recommendable. Excelle ...more
Christopher Jones
Aug 12, 2013 Christopher Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more than just the memoir of a journalist who knew everybody in the fashion and art worlds. Bernier describes the creative process of many of her artist friends, including Matisse, Miro, Aaron Copeland, Frida Kahlo, Chanel, Lagerfeld, and many others. She ties her "Lives" together to give a sense of the zeitgeist, especially in post WWII Paris.
Dec 28, 2012 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: artandartists
This seemed very slight at first but the more I read, the more I enjoyed, especially the chapters about the artists she knew. I loved the chapter about visting Julia Morisot, Berthe Morisot's daughter in Paris. Very poignant. Plus, the last three chapters are taken from longer essays or exhibit catalogs and the writing is very fine indeed.
Apr 06, 2012 Roben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rosamond Bernier had the richest of experiential lives. She has a character that has allowed her to mix and mingle with legendary folk in the arts from all over the world. She dwells on the tiny details of the many great artists who became her friends. I particularly loved a piece that she included on Janet Flanner.
Carole Prior
Truly an intoxicating read that is filled with people who changed the world either throught art or music or literature or fashion or design.

She was living in the vortex of art in a world filled with fascinating and thrilling people who were creative and lively.

Can't stop reading it...
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Rosamond Bernier is the author of Some of My Lives, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She was born in Philadelphia and was educated in France, England, and America. In 1955, she cofounded the influential art magazine L'OEIL, which featured the works of the masters of the School of Paris. A renowned lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rosamond Bernier was named for life to the I ...more
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