A Story Lately Told, by Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston | photo: Rex Pictures

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a wedding
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a story lately told

This traditional children’s nursery rhyme about magpies is how Anjelica Huston begins her book, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in London, Ireland and New York. Somehow, it felt like it was preparing us readers for some idyllic place and beguiling tales that usually come along in this kind of a setting. Anjelica does recount a picturesque childhood in Ireland, at the family estate in St. Clerans, County Galway, spent in the company of her mother, Ricki, and her brother, Tony, with only occasional visits of her father, John Huston, often away on film location. I think the book is also a father-daughter story: whether when describing how the house would come alive whenever John Huston was there or any other mention of their many a time turbulent relationship, those depictions of her father often seem to transcend the rest.

Anjelica also tells us about her teenage years in London and her coming of age as a model and young actress in New York, and she does it all with disarming honesty and bluntness about the opportunities her name and status afforded her: “In every generation a flock of pretty girls was released into society, with the help of their mothers, via the pages of the glamour magazines… often they were the progeny of good bloodlines – rich, clever, famous fathers and the beautiful women who married them. I was no exception to this fortunate rule.”

I loved the book just as I was expecting I would. Anjelica’s writing, because she wrote the book herself, is lean and unsentimental (in the good sense), sharing straightforwardly who she is with a fair lack of awareness that her life growing up wasn’t like almost anyone else’s. Her storytelling style is charming in a quirky kind of way, reflecting so well Anjelica Huston’s irreverence, unconventional beauty, wit and sensitivity.

The second part of Huston’s memoir, Watch Me, which covers the Hollywood years, will be published in the autumn of this year. I already can not wait for its release.

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