When Edward Sorel, the author of Mary Astor’s Purple Diary, found old newspaper clippings about the famous actress from the early 1920s to the 1940s, he became obsessed with her. He read and watched everything he could find about her so he could write (and illustrate) this book. At times, he compares Mary’s life to his; they had similar fathers and changed their names. They both fell in love, married, and divorced. But Mary had love affairs, and she wrote about them in her diary.
was her downfall. Her ex-husband found the diary and used it against her. She
lost custody of her child. She began drinking, and she was dragged through court
on more than one occasion over the journal's contents. Mary Astor's life was ruined because of what she wrote in her diary.
Sorel includes a few quotes from the diary and transcripts from the court cases, but they were not as numerous as I expected. The lack of photographs (there is only one) and direct quotes ensure Mary’s life remains shrouded in mystery, especially
when we learn the awful fate of the diary by the end of the book.
This illustrated biography takes the reader back to old Hollywood. Sorel includes historical details about that time period, even extending them into the clothing and scenery in his illustrations.
I was saddened by Mary Astor's story. Readers who are intrigued by scandals of the past may appreciate this book.