My review of Michel Schneider’s psychological novel, Marilyn’s Last Sessions (originally posted here) features in the latest Mad About Marilyn fanzine, alongside a vintage Tatler article about the young Norma Jeane, and an interview with Jay Margolis, author of the investigative study, Marilyn Monroe: A Case For Murder.
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In the November 14 issue of the British political magazine, The New Statesman, Sarah Churchwell – author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe – reviews Michel Schneider’s novel, Marilyn’s Last Sessions (click images to enlarge.)
“The great battle of Marilyn’s life wasn’t her struggle against drugs, alcohol, depression or loneliness, all of which are the usual suspects that writers keep lining up to identify. It was her quest for respect, which we still refuse to grant her.”
‘The coloring and definition of these portraits are indeed the finest I’ve come across in any other publication. The resolution, clarity and richness of photographs inMetamorphosis are unsurpassed. In addition, the overall feel and look of this book is quite high, from the heavy paper used to the gold-toned printing of the text. This book is a rare “must have” for every Marilyn Monroe fan and collector.’
Over at The Telegraph, Lucy Beresford reviews Michel Schneider’s novel, Marilyn’s Last Sessions:
‘The most successful element of the book is its analysis. Schneider is especially good on exploring Norma Jeane’s fraught relationship with “Marilyn Monroe”, and on dissecting the psychological (often traumatic) processes involved in playing a character on screen.
He also shows an insightful understanding of psychological interpretations of issues to do with image, narrative, self-delusion, death anxiety and transference in the patient/therapist relationship.
Yet lying on the literary reviewers’ couch, I struggle to say that this book succeeds as a novel. Despite a preface emphasising the made-up nature of facts or conversations, many paragraphs read like academic papers. And “like a demented editor taking revenge on a director”, random scenes are re-cut, cross-referenced or left hanging, which makes for a confusing, repetitive read.
Ironically, for a book preoccupied with objectification, it makes you hungry for the image. By the end, the protagonists have been shown to us as though through different camera lenses, a reminder possibly that we too are guilty of the scrutiny which contributed to Marilyn’s “possible suicide”.’
Marilyn’s Last Sessions, a 2006 novel by French author Michel Schneider, about her relationship with psychoanalyst Dr Ralph Greenson, will be published in English on November 3.
The book inspired a 2009 documentary of the same name. While I felt that the film blurred fact and fiction too liberally, Schneider’s novel has, so far, been critically acclaimed. It does concern me, however, that Schneider was inspired by John Miner’s disputed transcripts of tapes supposedly made by Marilyn for Greenson, which have never been found.
Lisa Appignanesi, who wrote about Marilyn and psychoanalysis in her 2008 book, Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors From 1800, has said that ‘Celluloid meets psychoanalysis in this riveting evocation of Marilyn Monroe’s life and ultimate suicide. As an analyst himself, Michel Schneider’s perceptions about the star’s relations with her last psychoanalyst are astute, and he writes with great flair and insight. Tender, provocative, brimming with perception, this is a novel about both our fascination with celebrity and its inner life.’
Schneider will discuss Marilyn’s Last Sessions with Appignanesi at London’s Freud Museum on November 1 at 7pm. Tickets £10/£7 concessions.