Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa...and Me
Prospecta Press, 2014 (2014)
Reviewed by Jessica Maguire
ony Cointreau, author of this memoir, has led an extraordinary life. Very few of us can count among our friends such notables as Lee Lehman, Ethel Merman, Pierre Cardin, and even Mother Teresa, but Mr. Cointreau can.
his most interesting memoir begins with Tony reflecting on his parents and their relationship, his parents' history, how they met, the birth of his older brother and his own unexpected arrival at the start of World War II. Included are excerpts from letters to family that were written by his mother, Dorothee Richardson, as she and young firstborn son, Richard, fled Europe to the safety of the United States.
rowing up was very difficult for Tony. Sibling rivalry led his older brother to constantly bully him, his parents were emotionally distant, and the stress of always striving for perfection to please his mother (the mantra of '
Mother only loves you when you're perfect!
' constantly in mind), took their toll on the young boy. By the time he was heading into his teenage years, he befriended Pam Lehman and her mother Lee. What he lacked with his own mother he found in the infamous Lee Lehman and she soon became Tony's friend and second mother.
espite the turmoil of his younger years, Tony, heir to the famous French liqueur, Cointreau, grew up to be quite extraordinary. After being in the family business as well as an acclaimed singer, Tony went to work with the Missionaries of Charity where he met and worked with Mother Teresa and where he also met his second mother figure, Ethel Merman.
lthough at times it was difficult to read about the many hardships Tony suffered, especially as a child, I found this memoir to be the most interesting I've read so far. It's well written. Mr. Cointreau is very candid in sharing his feelings and experiences, giving the reader the sense of personally knowing this extraordinary man. This memoir is definitely a page turning, read-in-one-sitting must have for your book collection. Happy reading!
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