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Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  1,153 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
The wickedly candid New York Times bestesller that Ava Gardner dared not publish during her lifetime - the heartbreaking memoir of the ultimate heartbreaker - (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars during the 1940s and '50s, an Oscar-nominated leading lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart,
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jul 09, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
When I was about 18 or 19 I had the (perhaps not-too-well-thought-out)idea of taking the train up to London and walking through Kensington Gardens in the hope of catching a glimpse of Ava Gardner as she walked her corgi, Morgan. Being rather shy at the time I would have been too nervous even to say hello, whatever I thought her reaction might have been. I was just a fan, who couldn't believe that she only lived 35 miles away from my home in Kent. Of course I didn't do it, but it did become a bit ...more
JoAnne Pulcino
Jul 16, 2013 JoAnne Pulcino rated it did not like it

Peter Evans

If you are a fan of the golden age of movies and the fascinating personalities of the era, this will not appear as new material. Mr. Evans conversations with The Most Beautiful Animal in the world are very repetitive, and there are whole chapters of her life he didn't even touch on. Ava Gardner was her own woman and lived a life most of us can only imagine. Yes, she cursed, yes, she spoke her mind and yes she was a sex symbol who lived it to the h
Gary Schroeder
Jul 22, 2013 Gary Schroeder rated it liked it
This is not your ordinary, straight-up Hollywood star bio. Rather, it’s an account of the making of a Hollywood star bio...or at least the attempted making of one, for it was never completed. All that remains of Peter Evan’s efforts to write a candid biography of Ava Gardner are the transcripts of his taped mid-1980s conversations with her. It’s this source material that forms the backbone of “The Secret Conversations.”

The conversations between Gardner and Evans, while containing lots of graphic
Rikki Ward
Jul 02, 2013 Rikki Ward rated it really liked it
I really loved this book! As a long time fan of classic movies, reading about film stars from way back when is a lot of fun for me. Sometimes I come across memoirs that are bland, self-righteous, and basically a huge disappointment but Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations delivered. Ava Gardner is down-to-earth, humorous, outspoken, and bawdy. She is very open throughout the entire book and tells all the juicy stories about her marriages, affairs, and movies that I as a fan wanted to hear--what ...more
Jennifer Greenfield
Oct 27, 2015 Jennifer Greenfield rated it really liked it
I think too many people are disappointed by this book, because they were expecting it to be something that nobody ever claimed it was. This is not an Ava Gardner autobiography. Neither is it a biography or a tell-all book. It IS a brief glimpse of the real Ava - HER actual words, her personality at that time of her life, insecurities, fears, etc. Through Peter Evans, all of us who will never have the pleasure of meeting her or spending time with her get to do so vicariously through the author. Y ...more

... not enough to be in love . . .
- Suzanne Vega, Frank and Ava, Beauty and Crime.

Ava Gardner's legend and story is not advanced or degraded with this book. A collection of transcriptions and anecdotal telling of conversations between author Peter Evans and AG about two years prior to Garner's death this book doesn't go anywhere. Part of the reason is that Evans was hired to 'ghost' her memoirs and then she pulled the plug. AG went on to write another memoir prior to her death that was publish
Aug 28, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
The highlight of actor Ben Gazzara's memoir was his mention that no woman ever drove men crazy like Ava Gardner. 3 marriages to Mickey Rooney (at the height of his popularity, so she was effectively hidden from his female fans), bandleader Artie Shaw, and of course Frank Sinatra (who was at the low point of his career and relied on Ava financially). Also linked to Howard Hughes, George C Scott (brutal when drunk), bullfighters, etc. The influence of MGM studio head Louis B Mayer cannot be overst ...more
Carol Wakefield
Jan 04, 2014 Carol Wakefield rated it did not like it
Conversation. Evans. "Please say something salacious, Ava". Ava " ok but then again maybe I don't want this book." Evans " but my publisher wants details". Ava. " forget it". Book published after death of Ava and Evans both. Of the two, Ava, in her choice to reject the work Evans did was the classiest.
Aug 09, 2013 April rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
I have recently finished Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations which I thought was going to be a biography but it was more about the construction of the book – mostly focusing on the interplay between the subject and the writer. There is way too much Peter Evans in this book –not enough Ava.

The book covers a series of interviews that Ava did in the late 1980s in preparation for a ghostwritten biography. An epilogue at the end tells the reader that that Evans’ biography of Ava was never finished;
Dec 09, 2013 Martin rated it liked it
A fascinating but incomplete account of Ava Gardner's life. The author attempted to ghost write Ava's autobiography in the final years of her life. This book is as much his story of trying to get a coherent history out of her as it is her story of coming to Hollywood. Her story ends here with Frank Sinatra, who probably interfered with her continuation with the author, who she discovered has once been sued in the 50s by Sinatra for libel. But even before Sinatra probably paid her off, she was ti ...more
Sep 11, 2016 Evann rated it it was amazing
wild. i knew very little about ava befor this book and i loved it. honest and a little bitter and rough and entertaining. didnt know the story behind the book until the end. i liked it that way. i talked so much shit about mickey rooney during the read. found robert mitchum hotter too.
Oct 04, 2013 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir

In the 1940's and 1950's Ava Gardner was the epitome of Hollywood glamour. Volatile marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra kept her in the gossip columns and there have been many books written about her life.

This was an interesting take on a biography. Not so much a traditional memoir as it is the story of the relationship between the author and the actress trying to write it down. It's not real heavy on gossip so those looking for juicy tidbits may be a bit disappointed but it
Jul 20, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
A very good book regarding Ava Gardner and her life in and around Hollyweird. I didn't know too much about her because she was " before my time " other than the fact that she was a major star in Hollywood. People, like me think that all or most celebrities i.e. - movie stars, musicians, artists, sport players et al live glamorous and successful lives but for the most part this ain't true. A lot of them live depressing lives once their star begins to fade, when their career is at it's apex and go ...more
Aug 12, 2016 Fiona rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
worth a read. Ava was beautiful, tempestuous and lonely. The only other person who has ever struck me as this insecure and unfulfilled with her life was Marilyn. Sad read, but ultimately, an informative and lively documentation of the parts of her life we never really knew.
Joy H.
Added 10/14/13.
I listened to this book in August or September, 2013.
It's a juicy autobiography of the actress, Ava Gardner. Compelling!
Taylor Reid
Jun 29, 2017 Taylor Reid added it
Shelves: 2015
Back in the late 1980s, Ava hired a ghostwriter and spilled the dirt on Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes, and more. But by the end, she got cold feet and called it off. In 2013, her story finally made its way into the world, and, boy, is it juicy.
Laurel Beth
Jul 18, 2013 Laurel Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, owned
"Grabtown Girl" - lil boogie's diary - April 18, 2006.

On my way to South Carolina I stop in Smithfield, N.C. to go to the Ava Gardner museum. I pull Grannie Mae's pearls out of my bag to infuse the moment with requisite glamour, but I drank too much Diet Coke and pulled through on the one-hitter too many times on the way and my hands shake. I am standing in front of this ghost theatre on a DOA Main Street USA and the miniature octogenarian museum patron ogles me through the window. I can tell sh
Jul 29, 2013 Diana rated it liked it
This is fun. And I had stressful things happening, so I needed something light. This did kind of read like a stack of People magazines, lots of gossip about Ava and her husbands, Mickey Rooney ("Andy Hard-On"), Artie Shaw (a "sadistic bastard"), and of course, Frank Sinatra (about whom Ava might have said something like, "Frank's only 120 pounds, but 110 pounds of it is c**k.") Ava was a mouthy, impetuous broad with a forthright enjoyment of sex that was refreshing to read about, but I felt kind ...more
Ellis Katz
Sep 10, 2013 Ellis Katz rated it really liked it
Not exactly, but one learns a great deal about Ava Garner. It is more the story of Peter Evans attempt to write a biography of Ava. Based on interviews/conversations, Ava tells of her marriages with Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, as well as her much publicized affair with Howard hughes. The book is brought to an abrupt end before we learn much about her life with Frank Sinatra. Evans died of a heart attack just before he was about to finish the book. Some claim that the information on Sinatra was ...more
Jul 12, 2013 Michael rated it liked it
Three stars only because we get an honest and often upset Gardner trying to work her way through her life; she's never less than interesting and you see the real human being under the facade. SPOILERS But the book also comes off as more a collection of notes than a cohesive book (which apparently it was, we get a postscript that seems quite sudden informing us that Ava put a stop to writing the book (Sinatra is blamed, he apparently threw a lot of money at the writer and Ava to stop the process) ...more
Donna Siebold
Jul 30, 2013 Donna Siebold rated it it was ok
Maybe when Peter Evans conducted these conversations with Ava Gardner they were revelatory but the only thing I felt I learned anew about Ms. Gardner were some of the details of her childhood. The story is staggeringly incomplete. Mr. Evans says he is going to organize Ms. Gardner's thoughts when he ultimately writes the book, but I think he fails in that task completely. I found the book thin on the details of most of her relationships, repetitive where relationships were discussed and almost t ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Coleen rated it it was amazing
This isn't what I expected. I thought I had picked up a biography- but instead it's a narrative of the author's conversations with Ms Gardner and his insights into how to console her and to get her to open up more. Once I got over the idea that it was not a typical biography, I enjoyed listening in on their conversations and particularly Evans' thoughts on how he was going to write the book. It's a shame that Evans died before the book could be completed. Thanks to Evans' wife for putting togeth ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Eliza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd been looking forward to reading this since publication but was greatly disappointed - very poorly written as pretty much a transcript of some late night rambling conversations with scant information, let alone the salacious gossip I was hoping for. The book centres around the single question of whether Ava will allow Peter access to her memories and then to publish them - the answer to both of which we know and is not remotely interesting as a narrative. The best anecdote had to be stolen fr ...more
Nick Jones
Aug 19, 2015 Nick Jones rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Unquestionably the worst thing I've read so far this year, not so much a biography as a logbook of bickering between the author and his subject. Ava Gardner comes across as a completely unlikable, petty shrew, and Peter Evans as a manipulative, conceited bastard.

Thanks to this book I doubt I'll be able to hear someone being addressed as "honey" or "baby" without wincing for a long, long time.
Jul 17, 2013 Tara rated it liked it
This was the no-holds-barred autobiography Ava Gardner planned to write with Peter Evans. It's thought that Frank Sinatra put a stop to it. A more toned-down memoir was completed with another writer, and published after Ava's death. This book records Evans' conversations with Ava, and some of the finished chapters. There aren't any new revelations here, but what makes it enjoyable is Ava's witty, sometimes outrageous commentary on her life and times.
Aug 10, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
I always love dishy books about Hollywood's Golden Age!:-) However, about a third of the book is taken up with Evans' efforts to wrest Gardner's life story out of her. Also a bit repetitious, but still fun (especially if Gardner is your favorite of the Big Three glamor girls: Gardner, Hayworth, & Turner).
Jul 01, 2013 Deodand rated it liked it
The most interesting part of this book is the tension between Ava's desire to speak about her life and her deep reservations about exposure. Ava's attitude seems to be that she wants to tell every detail to Evans but must he publish it?

Sometimes I felt that he pushed her farther than she needed to go. He took advantage of her late-night boozily softened state to reach her id.
Jun 22, 2014 Bibliophile rated it liked it
Ava Gardner was one foxy broad, with a foul mouth and a good sense of humor. These conversations with Peter Evans, meant to result in a ghostwritten autobiography before she dropped him, are often amusing and sometimes illuminating. Unfortunately, there is too much repetition and too much of Evans himself to make this a satisfying read. And what's with his obsession with Frank Sinatra's penis?!
Ava Gardner, the Secret Conversations is a newly available title by the glamorous star that covers her rural roots and rise to fame. Gardner actually halted the publication of this book after writing it with co-author Peter Evans, and it’s only now available years after her death.
Jan 29, 2014 Jh rated it it was ok
Don't bother. Find a better biography. This was a recap of the conversations that this author had with her, that were supposed to lead to a autobiography. Some interesting Hollywood stuff, but too much about the author and the interview process.
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“He always called me Daughter. It was to distinguish me from his sister Ava. I loved being called Daughter. It sounded so possessive, and to be possessed when you are a child is just a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel safe. It makes you feel loved.” 6 likes
“I either write the books or sell the jewels , and I'm kinda sentimental about the jewels.” 5 likes
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