October 03, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Greta Garbo: A Life Apart

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B

Joan Crawford once remarked, ”One almost feels grateful to Garbo for keeping herself so resolutely to herself, for leaving us a little mystery.” Unfortunately, biz writer Karen Swenson’s enormous bio, Greta Garbo: A Life Apart, is almost too meticulously written: Garbo’s ephemeral mystery is snuffed out by endless, unglamorous details. Swenson handles her subject’s transformation from Swedish schoolgirl Greta Gustafsson to luminous film diva Greta Garbo to low-key Manhattan recluse ”Harriet Brown” with vivid sensitivity. But Garbo, it seems, spent much of her life ”being chronically irritated and bored,” and after about 600 pages, the reader might feel the same. B

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