Getting Along Famously: A Celebration of Friendship
by Melissa Hellstern

Dutton (Penguin Group), 2008. ISBN 978-0-525-95080-6.
Reviewed by Diana Nolan
Posted on 10/30/2008

Nonfiction: Biography; Nonfiction: Relationships

Getting Along Famously has a lot going for it, from the stylish book jacket with its clever title to wonderful photos and glossy pages (all 193 of them). The subtitle, A Celebration of Friendship, sets the pace for what is to come. In her introduction, author Melissa Hellstern, writes: "Men may fix things, but women fix each other." Thus, we are led to the main focus of the book: stories of the friendships between twelve famous women that endured through divorce, rivalry, miscarriages, other struggles, until, in some cases, the death of one. Hellstern highlights friends of varying ages, talents, and dispositions, including a remarkable mother/daughter bond that thrives despite many years of strife.

The force that guides all these relationships is the women's ability to laugh at themselves. This is illustrated in an incident with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance during the filming of their television show. The two have a spat on the set and stop talking to each other for a full day until just before show time, when Lucy breaks the silence to coach Vance for an upcoming scene. Vance asks: "Why didn't you say so before?" Lucy replies: "We weren't speaking, and I'd be damned if I'd tell you!"

Interspersed within the text are brief vignettes of other well-known friends that I found distracting, although, some readers may welcome the break. Inspiring and easier to digest are the quotations scattered throughout the chapters like handfuls of confetti.

Hellstern's book prompts me to examine my own friendships to see whether they need repair, attention, or simply gratitude. This is an enjoyable read about women we know as celebrities, but thanks to Getting Along Famously, we see them as friends.

Melissa Hellstern is the author of How to Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life, published in 2004. She has been interviewed in numerous publications and apeared on the television show, "The Greatest Fashion Icons on Film". She lives in Chicago. Visit her website.

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