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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Some of My Lives: A Scrapbook Memoir by Rosamund Bernier, 2011, * * * *

In the late summer of 1926, when Rosamond Bernier was not quite 10 years old, her father put her on a ship and sent her off to her English boarding school, all by herself.  Every evening she changed into a party dress and then retired to a smoking room for gambling.  "I had spectacular luck," Bernier writes in this bonbon of a book.  Throughout her long life, Bernie who is now 96, has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Rosamund Bernier has lived an unusually full life, remarkable for its vividness and diversity of experience and she has known many of the greatest artists and composers of the twentieth century.    With little experience her determination and instincts led to jobs such as Vogue's first European feature's editor and a gig at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where her lectures were "the hottest ticket in New York." She wasn't an artist or a socialite, but she turned being social into an art. In Some of My Lives she has made a literary scrapbook from an extraordinary array of writings ranging from diary entries to her many contributions to the art journal L'Oeil, which she co-founded in 1955.  The result is a multifaceted self-portrait of a life informed and surrounded by the arts. Through the stories of her encounters with some of the twentieth century's great artists and composers including Pablo Picasso, Leonard Bernstein, Max Ernst, Aaron Copland,  Frida  Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Kark Lagerfeld, you come to understand the sheer richness of Bernier's experiences, interactions, and memories.  The result is pithy, hilarious, and wise -- a richly rewarding chronicle of many lives fully lived.   

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