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The Hollywood Book of Breakups    by James Robert Parish order for
Hollywood Book of Breakups
by James Robert Parish
Order:  USA  Can
John Wiley & Sons, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

They say everything's bigger in Texas, but I believe that's true of Hollywood as well. The paychecks are certainly bigger, as are the houses, the jewelry, and the egos. Relationships also get the star treatment. In his introduction, Parish tells us that 'being married in an outlandishly grand style - and being united with a person of great wealth, industry importance and remarkable attractiveness - has long been the goal in Tinseltown'. But these grand unions often give way to even grander breakups. From high-priced lawyers to public custody battles and tell-all books, nothing's sacred in the bitter war between ex spouses.

In The Hollywood Book of Breakups, Parish acknowledges the public's fascination with the lives of celebrities. With tabloids at times paying millions of dollars to be the first to share pictures of a blossoming relationship, a wedding, or the first signs of an impending divorce, it's clear that we live in a society that strives on observing every minute detail of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Written in a breezy, almost conversational style, The Hollywood Book of Breakups delves into some of the most infamous relationships of the Hollywood era. Mia Farrow vs. Woody Allen, Jennifer Aniston vs. Brad Pitt, Cher vs. Sonny Bono, Elizabeth Taylor vs. Richard Burton, Tom Cruise vs. Nicole Kidman - they're all here, their stories told in vivid, detailed narrative as seen from both sides. Even same sex couples such as Anne Heche and Ellen Degeneres aren't immune to the Hollywood brakeup fiasco. Their story is as strikingly dramatic as that of any other couple in the public eye.

Each couple's section begins with an intriguing quote from each person, often setting the stage for the narrative to come. A short summary of their relationship offers a quick look at what happened and what went wrong between then. After that, a biography of each person offers insight into their pasts before they met, and an overview of their life as a celebrity couple allows us to get an up-close and personal look at their relationship. Each section ends with a glimpse of where they are now, or, in some cases, where they were before their death. Beautiful photographs taken of the couple at the height of their relationship complement their often vicious breakups.

While Hollywood celebrities have many things in common, each couple's story is surprisingly unique. I had expected to come away from reading this book shaking my head at the antics of the rich and famous, but I turned the last page feeling infinitely saddened by how cruel two people who claimed to be in love could be to each other. Perhaps these relationships can best be described in the words of Barbara Hutton, speaking about Cary Grant: 'I loved him the most. He was so sweet, so gentle. It didn't work out but I loved him.' For an honest, no-holds-barred look at celebrity breakups, pick up The Hollywood Book of Breakups. Just be sure to have tissues handy. You'll need them.

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