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Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  60 reviews
A city, a movie star, and one magical year.

In November of 1954 a young woman dressed plainly in a white oxford, dark sunglasses and a black pageboy wig boards a midnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. As the plane's engines rev she breathes a sigh of relief, lights a cigarette and slips off her wig revealing a tangle of fluffy blonde curls. Marilyn Monroe was leaving
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 14th 2017 by Flatiron Books (first published March 14th 2017)
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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I've read a lot of books about the life and death Marilyn Monroe. Those books usually focus on her terrible childhood, her time spent on the Hollywood casting couch, her many many failed relationships and her drug addiction. Those books usually paint a bleak portrait of a depressing life. Not to mention those books usually try to solve the mystery of how she died.

Was it suicide?

Was it murder?

Was it an accident?

That's why I was so happy when I heard about this book. Marilyn in Manhattan isn't
Mariah Roze
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Mariah Roze by: Flatiron Books
I love reading biographies, especially about famous people that I know very little about. When this book crossed my path I eagerly wanted to read it.

This book starts off when Marilyn leaves Hollywood and everything else behind her. She had a failed marriage and an acting career, where she wasn't being taken seriously and was not offered the type of jobs she wanted. She needed a new scene and different friends. She needed Manhattan.

In Manhattan, she was able to go to the Met, appreciate art, and
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
"Somebody asked me when I was born and I said, 'Just recently, in New York'"

I can't tell you how much i loved this wonderful account of Marilyn's year of liberation and discovery in New York, 1955. So glad this had that specific focus and we get to see Marilyn happy, full of hope, being supported by friends and wanting to educate herself in everything, when so much we hear of her is framed by the tragedies that came before and after. This is also in a way a kind of love letter to New York at tha
Lorri Steinbacher
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This is a lovely and heartbreaking portrait of a curious, passionate, and smart woman who was trying so hard for people to really see her. It's evident in this book that it might have been otherwise for Marilyn and the year that she spent in Manhattan may have been the closest she came to authenticity joy. It would be easy to write MM off as a childish, emotionally stunted, damaged woman (even if at times she is all of those things). Winder does not let the reader do that. She gives us MM's flaw ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
What could go wrong with 2 of my favorite things? Marilyn Monroe and NYC? Elizabeth Winder author of the wonderful Pain and parties in New York (about another favorite of mine Sylvia Plath) takes a year that Marilyn spent with photographer Milton Greene and wife Amy. Winder is a real talent in taking you in with the sights, sense and ambivance of a city. Like taking a time machine back to the past, Winder almost makes NYC a character. This is the year Marilyn spent in New York before her ill fat ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Who isn't obsessed with Marilyn? Gone way before her time. I've read a lot of stuff about Marilyn, but I had no idea that she had spent almost a year in New York during a disagreement with her studio. She was tired of the sex kitten roles and she wanted to be an actress. Which is where she started her allegiance with the Strasbergs along with some other pretty famous people.

She also hung out with Capote, the rat pack, met her second husband, Arthur Miller (ugh, dullsville) and had a crush on Mil
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was the first I've read about the life of Marilyn Monroe and I loved it. In this book Marilyn's year of living in New York really seems to have been the best time of her life. She loved the social life and makes friends everywhere she goes. Marilyn is supported by the Greene and Strasberg families but she becomes independent both as a person and actress during this time. Marilyn Monroe is known for being one of the most beautiful actresses but this book shows there is so much more to t ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a biography about the most important and to the author the happiest years of Ms. Monroe's life. This is the year that she breaks away from Fox studio where she has been typecast into "dumb" blonde roles. She wants badly to be taken seriously for her acting. She moves from Hollywood to New York and goes to a premiere acting school in town. She meets supportive people who become her close friends. Ultimately she does get some serious roles and breaks away from Fox. But, then her personal ...more
Jul 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
the next (3rd?) of the library casualties
Bert Z
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Winder is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Earlier this year I read her book about Sylvia Plath, Pain Parties Work, and I adored it. When I saw that she had written a new book about another one of my favourite women, the one and only Marilyn Monroe, I knew I had to read it. It says a lot about Marilyn’s appeal that 60 years later she’s still famous and still adored.

I’ve read many biographies about Marilyn, one common thing I see biographers focus on is the sadness that consta
Amy Morgan
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. There are so many things I can say about this book that I just don't have time to write them all down. So in order to shorten it up a little bit I will just say that this book was one of the best portraits of Marilyn Monroe that I have ever read. She has always been someone that I've admired and this book shows so much of her inner beauty, courage, intelligence and her ability to inspire and surprise so many.

Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"She stretched out in her bathrobe on the floor of the Waldorf-Astoria, scrawling poems on crisp hotel stationery."

"With Wuthering Heights meets Jean Harlow hair."

"She looked like a blonde peach."

"crates of unopened Chanel No 5, and"

"Pert shoulders framed her face like two downy light bulbs."

("He was on her 'men to sleep with' list—and why not—with his three-piece suits and cigars, all Havana and cowboy leather.")

"She dated Marlon Brando. She had pillow fights with Truman Capote. She drank gin @
Sarah Duggan
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun, frothy read that challenges Marilyn Monroe's sex kitten stereotype by delving into her year of artistic soul searching. Despite her many flirtations and sloppy personal habits, Marilyn is a secret intellectual, devouring Russian literature and studying at the Actor's Studio. Still reeling from the impact of an abusive childhood, she is tenderhearted and constantly in need of mentors and protective friends. This is a fascinating snapshot of how movers and shakers crossed paths in mid-centu ...more
Kristen Dutkiewicz
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-stars, memoir
I took a little bit of time on my lunch break each day to step back in time and read about Marilyn Monroe's (forgotten) year in New York. After spending years playing the blond bombshell in typically over the top roles, she set off to New York to find herself, and while surrounded by good friends, she did!

Elizabeth Winder did a lovely job illustrating a portrait of one of my favorite former stars, and Miss Monroe would smile had she been given the opportunity to read this piece of literature. S
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The author did her research and writes well, but I already knew a great deal about this time period in MM's life. There were some new insights, but also regurgitated old information. Also, there was a bit too much detail for me. This was a year where MM was mostly sleeping, socializing, getting psychoanalyzed and photographed (yet the author reprinted none of the images so I had to google the lesser known images), and going to the actor's studio. The author actually made Marilyn's life repetitiv ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and was a little skeptical even after reading the good reviews here...but now I'm totally on board, and have a little crush on Marilyn Monroe, too! This is the first book I've read about her, so I needed to find a couple other sources to learn more about her life before New York. One of the things I loved about this book was the detailed descriptions of entire days that the author was able to pull together using various sources. My only complaint is that t ...more
Christine Sinclair
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read a lot of books about Marilyn Monroe. This is the first time I really felt I knew her. In 1954, she broke her contract with 20th Century Fox and Daryl Zanuck, moved to New York, studied at the Actors Studio, formed a production company with photographer Milton Greene, and truly blossomed as an actress. She worked hard, made new friends and fell in love, with New York City. When she returned to LA, on her own terms, to play Cherie in Bus Stop, the press took notice. "Her time in New York ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's refreshing to read a book that has a positive take on Marilyn, and portrays her as a real person. This book looks at Marilyn as an artist, a sensitive woman who was willing to risk it all to pursue her dream of being a serious actress. It relies a little too much on the testimony of a few people, Amy Greene in particular, which results in a negative view of her marriage to Arthur Miller. The author accepts as fact the claims of several men of affairs with Marilyn, despite the lack of an evi ...more
Robert Whitehurst
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’d like to thank the author, Elizabeth Winder, for allowing me to get to know one of my favorite idols. Throughout reading this detailed biography, I was shocked from the feeling that I was getting to know Marilyn beyond a surface level. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was getting to know her, for real. It was almost as if a family member was talking about a cousin who lived across the country. It felt so real. As a fan of Marilyn, it was such a rewarding experience to read this bo ...more
Elizabeth Block
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I didn't know a lot about Marilyn Monroe before, had heard she was a ditsy blonde who drank too much and took too many painkillers. That was mostly true but she was so much more than that. She was very bright and innocent and had a big heart. The book described her happiest year, when she escaped from Hollywood and moved to New York. This book shows more of her multifaceted character. She was a real person with real flaws, she wasn't just a sexpot. I'd never thought about how ...more
Received through FirstReads..
I really enjoyed this book, probably more than others that I've read about Marilyn Monroe. Of course this focuses on only one year, so is not really a biography, but there's still a great deal of information packed in. I did really like that this book doesn't dwell on all of the bad things in Monroe's life. It's kind of nice to think of her being somewhat happy, at least for a little while.
Cheryl Cameron
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with this book and couldn't put it down once I started it. The author shows Marilyn as someone who was smart, kind, thoughtful, funny, introverted to some extent, bookish, schoolmarmish, well as sexy. She was a wonderful, good person who was not treated kindly by others. It also provided the history behind many of the famous pictures of her...such as the subway scene and the ballerina picture that is one of my favorites. Love this book!
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Winders writing is superb. She has an excellent way with words. However, I feel the ending to have been too abrupt. There were also some factual errors. Many reviewers resent that she focused a lot on Marilyn’s wardrobe. I loved that she did! It’s those little details that made me feel closer to Marilyn. With all the Monroe bios (I’ve read at least three others) this is a stand out. This book breathed new life for me as a huge Monroe fan.
I enjoyed this chronicle of the year or so Marilyn Monroe spent in New York (1955), having fled Hollywood to strike out on her own. She started her own production company, threw herself into the study of acting (becoming the darling of no less a figure than Lee Strasberg), and stood her ground against Fox and Zanuck back in Hollywood. Winder's writing style makes for sort of a frothy read but it's a compelling one nevertheless.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Highly detailed account of Monroe's time in Manhattan after she walked away from Fox Studios. She had a desire to make something of herself as an actor/an artist. Tired of being cast as the blond bombshell, she was supported by friends, who encouraged her to read and participate in lessons at Strasberg's Actors Studio. Reminds me of the frustration of Elvis, who wanted to break away from his beach movies to play in more substantial films.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This seemed like a very well researched and certainly well written book. I enjoyed reading it, but always lurking in the back of my mind was the thought that no matter how happy MM was in NY, there seemed to be a huge amount of mental pain that was still there, overshadowing any of her happiness.

How sad that such a likeable, beautiful, and most of all talented and intelligent person had their life cut short by drugs.
Toby Murphy
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely one of the better biographies on Marilyn that I've read. Winder writes an intriguing biography of a rather complex person. The narrative is incredibly engaging and the reader roots for Marilyn along the way. At times, it seemed to be a bit one-sided and focus more on the positive aspects, however, it does offer a refresh take on an infamous person.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved it. It was so far one of the best books I’ve read and even though it has a really sad ending, I could not get out of it’s effect for about a week. I don’t usually enjoy biography books but Marilyn’s life is just like a non-fiction, adventure book and I don’t know how else to describe it. I recommend everyone to read it and I cannot describe how much I enjoyed it.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
At times the writing was annoyingly fluffy and overly descriptive but an enjoyable book. I was inspired by Marilyn’s dedication to gaining creative control of her acting career and her hard work to become a great actor. She was intelligent and complicated and I can understand why she was (and is) such an intriguing person.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A beautiful glimpse into a year of magic and transformation for MM. Having experienced a small taste of that same magic that NYC holds, it was a perfect read for escape. Any fan of Marilyn Monroe and New York City will enjoy this book
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Elizabeth Winder is also the author of a poetry collection. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Review, the Antioch Review, American Letters, and other publications. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and earned an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University.
“I've lived long enough to know that life doesn't always stick to the rules...The perfectly impossible and absolutely ridiculous keep happening all the time.” 1 likes
“It was stories like these that would stun Miller into silence, bury him alive with desire to save her. He called her "the saddest girl in the world," which she accurately interpreted as a statement as love.” 0 likes
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