• "An exceptional telling of an extraordinary life. I loved it." - Salman Rushdie
• “I was so moved by Love Child. It reminded me of Faulkner, specifically The Sound and the Fury. It offers a remembrance that propelled me back to being a blank slate faced with a terribly specific world. So much that appears attractive, and yet so little you can actually have. Allegra Huston walked away from an empty dream, and found the treasure her mother gave her.” - John Patrick Shanley, author of Doubt
• “This extraordinary book reveals the all but unendurable sorrow of loss, and the difficulties of those unwilling to live in a world without love. Because Huston’s concerns are with what she has seen and learned, rather than with alienation and the affixing of blame, her memoir glimmers with triumphant wisdom” - Susanna Moore, author of The Big Girls and In the Cut
• “A touching glimpse of the pain and longing felt by a child who doesn’t quite belong to anyone, this unsentimental journey through the star-studded vacuum of her various families is unexpectedly tender and fgorgiving. She writes with an artist’s eye for detail, with the clear gaze of a small outsider, searching forever for love” - Joanna Lumley
First published: US, April 2009 (Simon & Schuster); UK, April 2009 (Bloomsbury).
Paperback publication: UK, March 2010 (Bloomsbury); US, April 2010 (Simon & Schuster)
From the jacket of Love Child:
When Allegra Huston was four years old, her mother was killed in a car crash. Soon afterwards, she was introduced to an intimidating man wreathed in cigar smoke—the legendary film director John Huston—with the words, “This is your father.”
So began an extraordinary odyssey: from the magical Huston estate in Ireland, to the Long Island suburbs, to a hidden paradise in Mexico—and, at the side of her older sister, Anjelica, into the hilltop retreats of Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal, and Marlon Brando. Allegra’s is the penetrating gaze of an outsider never quite sure if she belongs in this rarefied world, and of a motherless child trying to make sense of her famous, fragmented family. Then, at the age of twelve, Allegra’s precarious sense of self is shattered when she is, once more, introduced to her father—her real one, this time, the British aristocrat and historian John Julius Norwich.
At the heart of Love Child is Allegra’s search through the unreliable certainties of memory for the widely adored mother she never knew—the ghost who shadowed her childhood and left her in a web of awkward and unwelcome truths. With clear-eyed tenderness, Allegra tells of how she forged bonds with both her famous fathers, transforming her mother’s difficult legacy into a hard-won blessing. Beautifully written and forensically honest, Love Child is a seductive insight into one of Hollywood’s great dynasties, and the story of how, in a family that defied convention, one woman found her balance on the shifting sands of conflicting loyalties.
From Kirkus Reviews:
LOVE CHILD: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found
The "too ordinary" member of a famous Hollywood family recalls her unusual childhood.
By the time she was 16, Huston had already swum with Jack Nicholson, roller-skated with football legend Jim Brown and looked into the legendarily violet eyes of Marlon Brando. Unshakably level-headed, she decided they weren't violet at all, but rather "bluey-gray." Her refusal to mythologize the "special" people, including her movie-star sister, Anjelica, sets her book apart from the usual Hollywood memoir. The many brushes with fame came courtesy of her father's family-the Hustons have produced three generations of Oscar winners-but they came at a price. Born to ballerina Ricki Soma, who was killed in a car accident when Allegra was only four, the author eventually learned that famed director John Huston was not her real father. Her story is about finding her place within this glamorous family, where she was too often an afterthought to the monumentally self-absorbed adults charged with raising her. She reconstructs memories of her mother and connecting with her biological father and his other children. A stunning amount of family drama surrounded her-serial adultery, divorce, alcoholism, child abuse-too much really for a child to bear, but Huston manages to make quiet sense of it all, weathering an emotional neglect that might have destroyed a weaker woman. By 21 she had completed an Oxford degree and embarked on a career in writing and publishing. The final, moving chapter jumps ahead a few years as the author brings together most of the important people in her life to celebrate the christening of her child. The confusion, hurt, jealousy and anger appear to have receded in favor of admirable compassion.
A graceful, surprisingly tender account of a life lived at the edge of fame.
Hollywood Quiet: PW's Book of the Week
Publishers Weekly, 2/23/2009
Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found Allegra Huston. Simon & Schuster, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4165-5157-7
Huston’s memoir begins when she is five years old, learning of her mother’s death from her godfather. Although she is sent to live with her father, the film director John Huston, he is an intermittent presence in her life. Then, when she is 12, Allegra’s stepmother informs her that her real father is the British historian John Julius Norwich. Huston, who spent several years as an editor in British publishing before creating a writers’ workshop in New Mexico, skillfully integrates her childhood memories with revelations from her mother’s correspondence, recounting her often-awkward encounters with “my dad” (Huston) and “my father” (Norwich) with great sensitivity. Although she spent part of her adolescence living with her older sister, Anjelica, there isn’t much in the way of Hollywood gossip beyond fleeting scenes of Marlon Brando playing chess and verbal abuse from Ryan O’Neal. Instead, the emphasis lies in young Allegra’s constant feelings of alienation and the subtle development of familial affections that culminate with Hustons and Norwichs coming together to witness the christening of her own son. Where many memoirists compete to see who’s had the most outrageous life, this story stands out in its quiet poignancy. 16 pages of b&w photographs not seen by PW. (Apr.)