Click here to read reviewer Steven Rosen's take on A Day in the Life.
I read the news today, oh boy...
Nobody was sure if Tommy Weber was upper-class or a bounder. He had the fruity English accent, though he was born in the Netherlands. His father was a charming liar who manufactured his ancestry out of whole cloth and passed it on to his son, who didn’t realize the full extent of daddy’s perfidies but inherited, in spades, his tendency to make his own rules when those of society didn’t suit him. Tommy married Susan “Puss” Coriat, whose mother was enormously wealthy and, despite being profligate to the point of near-criminality, managed to ensure that Puss would never want for anything material in her short, sad life. Tommy didn’t know he and his old man had a soul mate in Puss’s father, an out-and-out con artist who married Puss’s mom for her fortune while snowing her into unswerving, slavish devotion.
About a lucky man who made the grade;
And though the news was rather sad,
Well, I just had to laugh—
I saw the photograph...
He blew his mind out in a car;
He didn't notice that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared;
They'd seen his face before;
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.
Tommy and Puss fell in love at first sight – he was blond and fine-featured, she was dark, mysterious, and very naďve. They adored their boys, Charley and Jake, and took them everywhere
- not necessarily a good thing as time went by. Tommy was a race car driver who drove international rallies; unbeknownst to Puss, he used the cars he was entrusted with as smuggling devices for hashish. At a certain point he began philandering, though his love for Puss never waned, not, at least, until she confessed having had an affair. Then he hit her. Once. But that was the beginning of the end. They drifted apart, he into more outrageous criminal acts and severe drug abuse, she into a whimsical world of psychedelics and hippie-dippie dreams. Tommy’s trajectory
revolved around his need to be near the richest and most famous people on earth. He hung out with Keith Richards during his darkest years (see author Robert Greenfield’s recent book,
Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones). Charley and Jake were there as Tommy bedded beauties like Charlotte Rampling and Anita Pallenberg, and as he fell so far into heroin, cocaine and hashish that there was, ultimately, no road out.
Somewhere in the middle of all the chaos, Puss quietly killed herself in an anonymous room in a seamy little hotel, with an overdose of tranquilizers. When Tommy told Charley, the boy, as Greenfield describes it, “can only hear a whirling, symphonic cacophony of noise much like the one created by
The Beatles at the end of one of their most iconic songs.”
Though this is a book about grown-ups, some of them pretty god-awful and others just sick and weak and self- destructive, and a social history of the legacy of the 1960s ethos, it is also the story of the two little princes in the tower of fantasy, the chaotic, often temporarily happy but more often confusing and frightening world they inhabited with their deluded mother and their hell-bent father.
A great read, redolent of the times it so luridly depicts.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2009