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Why Not Say What Happened?: A Memoir

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  372 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Beautiful, intelligent and wealthy, Ivana Lowell seemed to have it all. Part of the Guinness dynasty, her family were glamorous and well-connected. However, being born into the Guinness inheritance was not the blessing that it appeared to be. This frank and witty memoir is both vibrant and sad.
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury UK (first published January 1st 2010)
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Moira Russell
This slightly flat memoir apparently ticked off many people (is it the feeling that if someone's this glamorous, well-connected and wealthy, they don't really have any business fucking up?) but it wasn't that bad. Her memories of her stepfather (Famous Poet Robert Lowell), mother (Famous Muse/Writer Caroline Blackwood) and grandmother (Famous Bitchy Eccentric) are evocative, even if the prose style is slack, and if the details of her relationship with Mr Miramax drag on, her struggle to choose b ...more
La Petite Américaine
Nov 04, 2010 La Petite Américaine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Idiots like me who believe book recommendations from Marie Claire magazine
Ivana Lowell is a Guinness heiress. That means every time someone cracks open a pint of Guinness, cha-ching, Ivana gets richer. She hobnobs with actors, writers, the very rich, and royalty. Oscar de la Renta made her wedding dress. She got handed a job at Miramax, she has a "condo" (that's Brit-speak for penthouse) in Manhattan, a house in Long Island, a castle in Ireland, another castle that her mother bought from Princess Diana's brother, and she grew up in the USA and the UK. She went to excl ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
If you have read and enjoyed A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle and/or Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir, and you enjoy hearing about the dysfunction, self medicated lives of the children loosely raised by parents who were never really equipped to function like resposible adults, then this book is definitely for you.

Ivana Lowell tells the story of her rather lonely and chaotic childhood. She lived in a succession of different houses, spent time in England, Ireland, Boston and New York gro
Shawn Thrasher
Aug 26, 2011 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually detest gushy, mushy, self reflective, abuse & addiction filled, A Child Called It-esque first person stream of consciousness memoirs, particularly those written by celebrities. I rank them right below textbooks and right above instructions manuals written in China. Celebrity tell-alls are always filled with tales of woe and cocaine, and pretty light on the actual names. Naming names is the most exciting part of a celebrity memoir, right? Ivana Lowell's memoir names names and doesn' ...more
Diann Blakely
What happened is Crazy Families and their legacy. The famously bipolar Robert Lowell, whose canonical poem, “For the Union Dead,” recently had its half-century anniversary celebrated ( ) went so far as to help create another Crazy Family in England, and while he was not Ivana Lowell's biological father (this particular issue is a crucial one in this throughly enjoyable book), he is warmly remembered by his stepdaughter.

In fact, if mostly shielded from the
Jun 13, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't be put off by those who are bitching about the poor little rich girl who doesn't recognize the value of her millions or her connections. There are far too many celebrity memoirs being written today, but this is one that is remarkably compelling and quite unflinching in its honesty. Ivana Lowell, despite every advantage, is impoverished in every way that counts and has had to face real tragedy, and a gene pool that although wealthy (Guinness Breweries) is also afflicted with alcohol, suicid ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Frances rated it did not like it
The world of the have-a-lots is intrinsically appealing to outsiders and insiders. Glamour and power bounce from the gilded facades of the rich, famous and infamous, and we might just catch a ray; a secondary glow seems better than none. We can’t help at least glancing through the tabloids to read about the latest scandal and to get a glimpse of someone’s tumble or rise. Ivana Lowell’s memoir “Why Not Say What Happened?” plays directly into our eager appetites for the lavish and sensational. A d ...more
Jan 21, 2011 Kavanand rated it liked it
Ivana Lowell's memoir of her life as a member of the famed Guinness clan has some fascinating moments. Her mother was novelist and muse to many Caroline Blackwood, and her stepfather (and the main father figure in her life) was poet Robert Lowell. This didn't exactly make for a stable childhood; Blackwood was an alcoholic and Lowell was bipolar. Ivana's maternal grandmother, Maureen Guinness, is both fascinating and rather repugnant. She was an aristocrat, but her sense of humor was rather low-b ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
That's right, I'm giving this one the big 5 stars. Read it and weep, haters. Ivana Lowell tells her story with the only title fitting, Why Not Say What Happened?, b/c that's pretty much the tone of the book. I can't imagine her having held anything back. It must be all here (pubic hair transplant, drunken disgraces, dating second cousins, etc.). The subject was definately interesting. Her mother was nothing less than fascinating, AND, I found Iavana to be a pretty good writer to boot (there is a ...more
Jun 13, 2014 Ellie rated it it was ok
Interesting for its portrait of writer Caroline Blackwood and Robert Lowell. Not very well written and very sad but the author is likable and it is easy to read this despite the uneven quality of the writing.
April Fleming
Really breezy, gossipy read. Ivana Lowell is a Guinness (beer) heiress and the daughter of the writers Robert Lowell and Caroline Blackwood (also a Guinness girl). It's a memoir (how do I keep reading these?) full of the seemingly predictable trials of addiction and abuse. I enjoyed her writing style (very conversational, light) and she has an interesting perspective, having grown up as an aristocrat among her parents' literary circle. Probably not for anyone with a taste for more serious materi ...more
Cynthia Rennolds
Feb 25, 2014 Cynthia Rennolds rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Ivana Lowell and her parents Caroline Blackwood and Robert Lowell. Dysfunction at its best. Truly interesting characters trying to find their way in the world. Reading this book sent me on a fact finding mission to read mini-biographies of the various characters in Ivana's life. I also read a full length biography of Robert Lowell after reading this book.

Many reviews of this book are negative. There's a whole lot of hate because of the affluence Ivana was born into (Guinness m
Nov 01, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it
For some people such as myself, growing up without a father is something we just absorb into our lives. But for Ivana Lowell, growing up with a step-father, the poet Robert Lowell whom she adored, and three potential biological fathers whom she knew, paternity was shifting ground. This memoir is fascinating on many levels: Ivana's journey of self-discovery and the discovery of her father's identity; the relationship between her and her mother, Lady Caroline Blackwood; and the legacy of being a m ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
WORTH READING...addictions rule lives and and are very hard to beat. They become generational and the pain goes on and on.
Jan 01, 2011 Featherbooks rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Sturm und drang, childhood neglect, alcoholism among the wealthy, titled British upper classes and much name-dropping.
Oct 04, 2014 Barbara rated it it was ok
What happened? Nothing happened, except they were drunk and rich and no one knew who their real father was.
Feb 01, 2011 Mandy rated it really liked it
rich people. some times they are drunks.
Apr 03, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
She’s from a wealthy, titled family [Guinness heiress, her maternal grandmother is the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava] so why should we care about a memoir by Ivana Lowell? For me: I adore memoir; I’m an anglophile; I like fine things and fancy to-do’s plus the literary and acting worlds of which Lowell is a part; and Lowell writes with candor as if she’s addressing a friend over tea. Why Not Say What Happened? is hardly a throw-away memoir but delves into the darkness of alcoholism that rava ...more
Feb 18, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book got a lot of negative criticism on amazon for its early-reader voice, and I agree with all that. But the author is simultaneously great at stating plainly the emotional turmoil of being a child in a dysfunctional family, being neglected and abused. And, it's well organized, and well-edited, with a good pace. Another criticism from which I did not find annoying: name-dropping. I enjoyed the name-dropping, and it seemed really of-a-piece with the writer's life - she had three ...more
Nov 02, 2012 Kerry rated it it was ok
Well folks, right out of the gate I felt like I wasn't going to really enjoy my time in bed with this book. Lowell comes right out of the gate crying about the life of wealth, fame and the rest. I mean, the lower caste of society isn't reading to hear about your privileged life, but rather how you managed to fuck it all up. It's like when the pretty girl gets a nasty acne flare up before prom or when the smart girl whips up her hand in traditionally speed-of-light fashion and then flubs the answ ...more
Alison Whiteman
May 16, 2016 Alison Whiteman rated it liked it
The story is quite interesting, but the writing is flat. I think the interest for me consisted of all the name dropping. Take away the money, the success and this is a sad story about addiction and mental illness. In this biography it's almost glamorous. In real life, addiction is not glamorous at all. I would like to read Caroline Blackwood's work. I am curious to know about her writing which in no way means I will forget she was an addict living in a mad swirl of luxury.

martha Boyle
Nov 01, 2010 martha Boyle rated it liked it
The daughter of Caroline Blackwood-(writer, muse, married at one time to both Lucian Freud and poet Robert Lowell) and a member of the famous, wealthy Guinness family, Lowell shows us how you can't have it all. Her celebrated mother was an alcoholic, her beloved step-father, Robert Lowell, was bi-polar, her elder sister died of a heroin overdose, Lowell herself was burned in over 70 percent of her body in a childhood accident and she found out as an adult that the man she thought was her father- ...more
Apr 07, 2011 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Named after a line from a poem by Robert Lowell, her mother's third husband and an important stabilizing presence in her early life, this self-searching, poor-little-rich-girl story is, in ways, a search for a father. Alcoholism ran through Ivana Lowell's family, the descendants of the Guinness beer fortune; her fabulous grandmother, Maureen, married royalty, and cultivated "talented snobs." (sic) Depending on a reader's orientation, one might even give the book a 4-star rating. The memoir is p ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Xtiana rated it it was ok
I found Ivana's life and experiences interesting, but her memoirs had so little to do with what being an heiress was like and more of how her unusual and sometimes sad upbringing had affected her. There was so little mention of anything Guiness or heiress-related and I felt this could have been any poor-little-rich-girl story.

There was also no real point. You expect someone in a memoir to come to some sort of revelation or to come clean about something, but I ended the book thinking, "So, what?
Diane Dubay
Aug 14, 2013 Diane Dubay rated it did not like it
Ivana Lowell's uses her wonderful gift with words but she wastes it all on mindless, endless, tedious name-dropping of glittery pedigreed people who inhabited her pedigreed childhood. She treats her mother's alcoholism and her own alcoholism as some strange badge of distinction. The book is a page turner -- her gift with words makes me think SOMETHING interesting is bound to happen on the next page (I keep thinking) but (I'm nearly, but not quite done reading it) I really don't think that's goin ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Ilana added it
Not a well written book, but captivating to the last page. A story of family - dysfunctional beyond anything reamed up for the screen or page. Fascinating and highly recommended for anyone who values family and the relationships that exist within one.
Oct 21, 2012 Penny rated it it was ok
I didn't care for this book at all. I found myself completely unsympathetic to Ivana's problems and her justifications for her behaviour. I know this is a memoir and that she went through some rough bumps as a child (including sexual abuse in which she recounted in such a way that made me feel like she was possibly a little proud of the fact), but the way she described every problem she had and every struggle she went through, and also the way she handled these things just made her more unlikeab ...more
Dec 27, 2010 Jane rated it liked it
Every person who has money and social position is not happy. How often have we heard this? The grandaughter of one of the Guiness sisters of the British Guiness fortune had a very unusual life surrounded by very colorful characters. Her grandmother liked to wear a false penis on her nose when she went visiting. And her mother's idea of decorating was to collect old rickity furniture and fill rooms with them. Ivana was in and out of rehab and didn't find out who her real father was until she was ...more
Danielle McClellan
Sep 26, 2012 Danielle McClellan rated it liked it
What a mess! And yet, impossible to put down! The most addictive kind of junk food read--I gobbled it up, but had a distinctly queasy feeling afterwards. The book is filled with surprising gossip (Why the Queen Mother was called "Cake" by her friends), literary hijinks (the author's stepfather was Robert Lowell), and some great anecdotes sprinkled amongst the visits to rehab and tales of increasingly impossible men. Ivana Lowell may be the quintessential poor little rich girl (and she really did ...more
Jun 18, 2013 Carolinenotes rated it did not like it
Shelves: partially-read
I only made it through the first seven chapters when I decided that this isn't a quality piece of work. It had the potential to be good, but I wonder how it got past the editing staff. It reads as if the author was in the early stages of writing it and was putting her notes together. The writing had no flow, and a lot of the details she gave needed to be fleshed out more. I did a brief web search about the author because I was curious as to what kind of education she had. She doesn't seem articu ...more
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