Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Ali in Wonderland (Audio)

Summary: Growing up in a family of political journalists—and daughter of President Reagan’s White House social secretary—Ali Wentworth rebelled against her blue-blood upbringing, embracing Hollywood, motorcycles, even a few wildly inappropriate marriage proposals. Today she is an acclaimed comedic actress and writer, former Oprah regular, wife of political and media star George Stephanopoulos, and a mother who lets her two girls eat cotton candy before bed. Though she’s settled down, her rebellious nature thrives in her comedy and her view of her crazy world. 

In this addictively funny and warm memoir, she takes us through the looking glass and into the wonderland of her life, from a childhood among Washington’s elite to a stint in the psych ward they called a New England prep school; days doing L.A. sketch comedy (with then-aspiring artists Will Ferrell and Lisa Kudrow) to a series of spectacularly failed loves (that eventually led her to Mr. Right). Constant throughout is her mother, Muffie—a flawlessly elegant yet firm, no-nonsense force of nature and pure WASP convictions. 

As charming and off-the-wall as Ali herself, Ali in Wonderland is an entertaining look at life that is both intimate and hilarious. -- HarperAudio

I'm not really sure what made me decide to listen to ALI IN WONDERLAND AND OTHER TALL TALES by Ali Wentworth. While I have seen Ms. Wentworth  on Oprah and some other television shows including Seinfeld, I don't know much about her beyond that she is married to George Stephanopoulos. I guess I thought that since she's a comedian, it might be fun to listen to her story during my morning exercise routine. And I'd guess I'd say that parts of ALI IN WONDERLAND were entertaining, but overall, it was just an okay "read" for me.

Looking back, I think my main issue with this book is that I'm just not that big of a fan of Ms. Wentworth's. It's not that I don't like her or have any issues with her. It's just that I just don't think I know her well enough to truly care about her life story. (As I look back on that statement, it sounds horribly cruel but I'm hoping you get the gist of what I mean.) I did find certain aspects of her story to be interesting, but it wasn't like this was a tell-all book with loads of juicy gossip. It was a funny story about a privileged young woman who rebelled against her upbringing and eventually found success in both her career and her love life.

Naturally, there were parts of this story that I appreciated more than others. I found it interesting to learn about her family's place in the Washington D.C. political arena, and I loved learning about Ms. Wentworth's early years in her career. Probably one of the best parts to me was the story of Ms. Wentworth's and Mr. Stephanopoulos' whirl-wind romance. After some bad luck with men, she finally found the man of her dreams and is now married to him and they have two young daughters. Despite seeming like opposites, their relationship seems to work; and I really enjoyed hearing a few examples of the banter that she and her husband share -- especially the stories about the carpet and the sea shells.

While this book, for the most part, was pretty funny, there were some sensitive parts to Ms. Wentworth's story too. After a particularly nasty break-up, she battled some pretty serious depression. I appreciated her honesty about this very rough time, and I admit that I also appreciated her trademark wit when sharing her issues. Another part of the story that I really liked was how Ms. Wentworth presented her mother Muffie -- yes, Muffie. Despite having their normal share of ups and downs, there is no doubt that Ms. Wentworth has the utmost respect for her mom. Anytime Ms. Wentworth had a problem, she immediately went to her mom who was a pillar of strength. I found many of the stories between the two to be very sweet and I think Ms. Wentworth paid a nice tribute to her mom in this book.

Ali Wentworth, of course, narrated her story; and I have a feeling that I wouldn't have enjoyed this book near as much if it weren't for her voice. Because she is telling her story, she put emphasis on the important parts; and I got a true sense of her humor and sarcasm. In fact, many parts of this book sounded like they could have been taken straight from Ms. Wentworth's stand-up comedy routine. I found myself laughing a lot while listening to her story, and I have no doubt that Ms. Wentworth in one funny (and a little crazy) woman.

ALI IN WONDERLAND isn't going to go down as one of my favorite books of the year, but it was a fun way to spend a few hours while I was exercising. I think Ms. Wentworth's fans will appreciate this one a little bit more than I did.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this audio book.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I don't know this woman at all (maybe I'd recognize her if I saw her) but the fact that she is married to George? I really like him. I think that is cool. I don't know, I guess when it comes to memoirs, if it is well-written, I'd be fine to read about the guy that lives down the street. Some people just have a knack for telling a story. Maybe this is missing that little bit of pizzazz.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm not big on memoirs anyway. Too bad this one wasn't for you!

bermudaonion said...

I'm not familiar with her either but, you know me and memoirs. I may like this one more than you did.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I have no idea who this woman is so I don't think I will pick this one up.