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It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir

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Born to great wealth yet kept a virtual prisoner by the custody battle that raged between her very proper aunt and her self-absorbed, beautiful mother, Gloria Vanderbilt grew up in special world. Stunningly beautiful herself, yet insecure with a touch of wildness, she set out at an early age to find romance. And find it she did. There were affairs with the likes of Howard Born to great wealth yet kept a virtual prisoner by the custody battle that raged between her very proper aunt and her self-absorbed, beautiful mother, Gloria Vanderbilt grew up in special world. Stunningly beautiful herself, yet insecure with a touch of wildness, she set out at an early age to find romance. And find it she did. There were affairs with the likes of Howard Hughes, Bill Paley and Frank Sinatra, to name a few, and one-night stands, which she writes about with delicacy and humour, including one with the young Marlon Brando. legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski; who kept his inner most secrets from her; the film director Sidney Lumet; and finally writer Wyatt Cooper, the love of her life. Now, in an irresistible memoir that is at once ruthlessly forthright, supremely stylish, full of gossip and deeply touching, Gloria Vanderbilt writes at last about the subject on which she has hitherto been silent, the men in her life. This is the candid and captivating account of a life that has kept gossip writers speculating for years, as well as Gloria's own intimate description of growing up, living, marrying and loving in the glare of the limelight.


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Born to great wealth yet kept a virtual prisoner by the custody battle that raged between her very proper aunt and her self-absorbed, beautiful mother, Gloria Vanderbilt grew up in special world. Stunningly beautiful herself, yet insecure with a touch of wildness, she set out at an early age to find romance. And find it she did. There were affairs with the likes of Howard Born to great wealth yet kept a virtual prisoner by the custody battle that raged between her very proper aunt and her self-absorbed, beautiful mother, Gloria Vanderbilt grew up in special world. Stunningly beautiful herself, yet insecure with a touch of wildness, she set out at an early age to find romance. And find it she did. There were affairs with the likes of Howard Hughes, Bill Paley and Frank Sinatra, to name a few, and one-night stands, which she writes about with delicacy and humour, including one with the young Marlon Brando. legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski; who kept his inner most secrets from her; the film director Sidney Lumet; and finally writer Wyatt Cooper, the love of her life. Now, in an irresistible memoir that is at once ruthlessly forthright, supremely stylish, full of gossip and deeply touching, Gloria Vanderbilt writes at last about the subject on which she has hitherto been silent, the men in her life. This is the candid and captivating account of a life that has kept gossip writers speculating for years, as well as Gloria's own intimate description of growing up, living, marrying and loving in the glare of the limelight.

30 review for It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan Stuber

    I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I caved in to my curiosity and bought this book(let), even though I should have known better when I saw that the Kindle version cost more than William Boyd’s latest novel. Go figure. Yes, I was curious to know about her famous affairs with Brandon, Sinatra et all, but Gloria reveals little except that she was, like any groupie, happy to jump into any charismatic lead man’s bed she took a shining to, and like a good trooper, wasn't expecting anything would co I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I caved in to my curiosity and bought this book(let), even though I should have known better when I saw that the Kindle version cost more than William Boyd’s latest novel. Go figure. Yes, I was curious to know about her famous affairs with Brandon, Sinatra et all, but Gloria reveals little except that she was, like any groupie, happy to jump into any charismatic lead man’s bed she took a shining to, and like a good trooper, wasn't expecting anything would come of it. She also had no qualms about doing this while she or her partners were still married to someone else. So the jist of it is that Gloria Vanderbilt was a liberated woman before her time. In today’s word of “Sex and the City”, anything she did back then would be regarded as rather unsurprising today. The fact that she did it back then rather confirms the general rumor that Hollywood has always been a place of easy sex. I wonder how the public would react if a man had written such a memoir. If he had told about all the stars he had slept with. If he had said, at the end of the book, “Well, we really didn’t have much in common, but boy could she do a great b.j.! What more could a man want?”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    The subtitle for book is "A Romance Memoir" so I expected to read about Gloria Vanderbilt's romances throughout her life. What I did not expect was such a disorganized, disjointed account of those romances. When I first started reading, I thought it was written similar to how we remember our past -- short clips, some vividly, some vague. But the more I read, the more I felt there was no organization, forethought, or editing put into this memoir at all. The photos have no labels and bounce from c The subtitle for book is "A Romance Memoir" so I expected to read about Gloria Vanderbilt's romances throughout her life. What I did not expect was such a disorganized, disjointed account of those romances. When I first started reading, I thought it was written similar to how we remember our past -- short clips, some vividly, some vague. But the more I read, the more I felt there was no organization, forethought, or editing put into this memoir at all. The photos have no labels and bounce from child to adult back to child (and you aren't even sure of who they are photos of). The structure does the same -- it follows no timeline so you are not sure when the events are taking place. Overall, I was disappointed in this book. Initially I thought I would read Vanderbilt's other works, but now I'm not so sure.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Title

    I was enticed by the title --- but it turned out to be little more than a recalled list of paramours. It seems that what we got was a few statistics, or maybe some bones with very little meat left on them. I'm sure her recollections are meaningful to her, but she didn't give us much to make us "feel" one way or the other about her romances. Name, rank and serial number -- that's about all. Too bad. I was enticed by the title --- but it turned out to be little more than a recalled list of paramours. It seems that what we got was a few statistics, or maybe some bones with very little meat left on them. I'm sure her recollections are meaningful to her, but she didn't give us much to make us "feel" one way or the other about her romances. Name, rank and serial number -- that's about all. Too bad.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I was entirely disappointed with this portion of Gloria’s memoirs. It offered no real depth of her or of the men in her life, it was more of an overview. I walked away feeling as though she really didn’t shared anything about her true self with the reader; it read more as a list of conquests.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kricket

    Short vignettes of Gloria's various love affairs over the years. (Roald Dahl!?!) Very breezy and conversational. Rest in peace, Gloria. I'm glad you had fun while you were here. Short vignettes of Gloria's various love affairs over the years. (Roald Dahl!?!) Very breezy and conversational. Rest in peace, Gloria. I'm glad you had fun while you were here.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sugarpuss O'Shea

    Every now & then, you just need some mental bubblegum, and this book fits the bill. It's comprised of vignettes on love, life, & loss from Gloria Vanderbilt. It's not a serious book that will win awards or be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize; it's just the amusing ramblings of a woman who has lived more than her fair share of life. An quick, entertaining read when you just want an escape. Every now & then, you just need some mental bubblegum, and this book fits the bill. It's comprised of vignettes on love, life, & loss from Gloria Vanderbilt. It's not a serious book that will win awards or be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize; it's just the amusing ramblings of a woman who has lived more than her fair share of life. An quick, entertaining read when you just want an escape.

  7. 4 out of 5

    عمران ابن مصر

    it is really hard for me to give a book 1 star, but this book just missed the mark. Writing style is not for my taste as she constantly takes readers out of the story to ask them a question. It's annoying, don't YOU think? While this was supposed to be a romantic essay, I thought she came off more whore-y than anything else. Talking endlessly about her love-ahs including men that were married, and in her youth some curious girls. Mostly I just thought is she out of her MIND to think that most wo it is really hard for me to give a book 1 star, but this book just missed the mark. Writing style is not for my taste as she constantly takes readers out of the story to ask them a question. It's annoying, don't YOU think? While this was supposed to be a romantic essay, I thought she came off more whore-y than anything else. Talking endlessly about her love-ahs including men that were married, and in her youth some curious girls. Mostly I just thought is she out of her MIND to think that most women can relate to these stories? Dates where she is whisked off to far lands. She pretends that being GLORIA VANDERBILT and all her glory and money is nothing special, but I'll tell you something Gloria Vanderbilt, Not a lot of woman get asked as a first date to Paris. I think she was trying to be chummy and coy with all the silly 'don't you agree?' and 'who wouldn't say yes to a complete stranger taking me to London' well, I wouldn't. But then again, I would never write a book about my 'next great love' while so clearly rejecting the previous. I'm sure her children loved this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ozma

    I was expecting/hoping for a thoughtful memoir dotted with well-chosen gossip and romantic memories of old Hollywood and some stories about Vanderbilt's jean designing. Now, nothing against Gloria, whom I'm sure is a lovely lady, and I do love her son, Anderson Cooper, but this book was not fun to read. I think Gloria thought that telling us about all the sex she had would be charming, but it's kind of icky. Gloria is the unsung Wilt Chamberlain of American women. I would wonder if she had ever I was expecting/hoping for a thoughtful memoir dotted with well-chosen gossip and romantic memories of old Hollywood and some stories about Vanderbilt's jean designing. Now, nothing against Gloria, whom I'm sure is a lovely lady, and I do love her son, Anderson Cooper, but this book was not fun to read. I think Gloria thought that telling us about all the sex she had would be charming, but it's kind of icky. Gloria is the unsung Wilt Chamberlain of American women. I would wonder if she had ever slept with Wilt, but I am pretty certain she did not because she doesn't describe having an affair with him in this book. And since she describes having an affair with practically everyone else, I'm sure she wouldn't leave Wilt out. The tone is also a little on the haughty side. Gloria's stories are not un-interesting. This book was just edited badly. Someone needed to tell Gloria, let's delete everything that's only interesting because you happen to be Gloria Vanderbilt; let's leave in everything else that is interesting itself as a story. I loathe giving bad reviews so I am sorry to say this, but I have to. A few good things though -- Gloria advises not to have affairs with married men. I know we've heard this before, but, coming from Gloria, who's tried it at least twice, you have to believe it. Second, I did like her ending where she says that you never know where the next love affair will come from and that today could be the day you meet the love of your life. . .I did appreciate that optimistic tone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Todd

    Loved it. It was as if Gloria herself were sitting across from me recounting various events from her life. Fun/quick read

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    This was like sitting next to a drunk old woman on an airplane.

  11. 5 out of 5

    J

    Another short memoir of a socialite for the summer reading challenge. Read in under 2 hours. Written in her 80s, an uber rich old-school socialite recounts her life, focusing mainly on her famous romances. She implies that she was sexually involved with the people mentioned, but does not give specific details. She also talks briefly about her trust fund and later jobs and business ventures. She starts the book with stories about exploring her sexuality as a youth with a male cousin and then female Another short memoir of a socialite for the summer reading challenge. Read in under 2 hours. Written in her 80s, an uber rich old-school socialite recounts her life, focusing mainly on her famous romances. She implies that she was sexually involved with the people mentioned, but does not give specific details. She also talks briefly about her trust fund and later jobs and business ventures. She starts the book with stories about exploring her sexuality as a youth with a male cousin and then female classmate. She talks about her bi-sexual mother and how "Love is Love". (She does not mention her famous homosexual son.) She ends the book with an African-American man and talks about racism in her upbringing, especially against Jews. Perhaps she intends to shock the reader with her sexual exploits, and it is a shocking considering the cultural morals when she was born in 1924. In the middle, there is a long string of conventional white men. Some single, some married to her and some married to other women. Very famous names - Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Pat DeCicco (actor & mafia man), Leopold Stokowski (famous conductor), Sidney Lumet (movie director) and Wyatt Cooper. She has a constant need to be liked and can't leave a relationship (even abusive ones) until she has another lined up. She dives into romances head first without thought and then expects sympathy/exceptions when it inevitably goes bad. She is very much ruled by her emotions. The title "It Seemed Important at the Time" implied to me that she later realized certain things are not important. However, this is not the case. The fact that she FELT something was important in a particular moment justified all her further actions. She has temporary morals and marriages, based on her feelings at the time, hopping in and out of many beds and marriages along the way. Despite her claims about constantly learning from life, she has not learned much. She gives horrible advice throughout the book, encouraging readers to follow paths that lead to emptiness. One thing that struck me as odd was how little she talked about her 4 children from 2 different men. She goes into detail about her trust fund and various jobs/businesses as they impacted her decisions and life. However, she doesn't mention any of the births of her children. There were only a few brief comments that referenced she had children. (Those caused me to google her and get more information. One of her sons is Anderson Cooper from CNN.) Then a story about how one son killed himself and it caused her to take a break from her current married lover for 5 months. Perhaps she is trying to maintain her children's privacy. But they didn't seem to have even been a factor as she made life decisions, such as moving in with another new man. Perhaps the focus of this book was only suppose to be romantic relationships, but it felt odd that she also talked about her various sources of income along the way and not her children. As if her children weren't essential to her life, but her money was. She is a surprisingly good writer and comes off as likeable despite everything. She gets a lot of grace from not being explicit.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Zacks

    After watching the tv movie "Little Gloria, Happy at Last" and the documentary "Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper", I knew a good amount of information about Gloria Vanderbilt's life, so I wasn't really interested in reading her autobiography but a romance memoir sounded REALLY interesting to me, especially when names are named! While Vanderbilt does a good job of listing some of the famous men she "dated" and married, the dirty details I was hoping for were just not there After watching the tv movie "Little Gloria, Happy at Last" and the documentary "Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper", I knew a good amount of information about Gloria Vanderbilt's life, so I wasn't really interested in reading her autobiography but a romance memoir sounded REALLY interesting to me, especially when names are named! While Vanderbilt does a good job of listing some of the famous men she "dated" and married, the dirty details I was hoping for were just not there. Perhaps Vanderbilt was trying to be classy in leaving out the details, but if you're going to kiss and tell, I expect to hear some raunchy stories! For example, it is rumored that Frank Sinatra was well hung. Ava Gardner once quipped that with 112 lb Sinatra, "12 pounds were Frank and the rest was his dick". So...WAS HE HUNG? HOW WAS HE AS A LOVER??? Well, we never really find out. Sadly, instead divulging the that kind of information, Vanderbilt talks more about how their brief fling gave her the strength to leave her (old and ugly) husband at the time, Leopold Stokowski. Towards the last 20 pages, the book takes a more boring turn and Vanderbilt talks about how the love of her life was really...her mother? Sure, I get what she's saying about how she was always looking to replace the love she desired from her mother, but talking about your mom in your "romance memoir" just seems out of place. There are a few juicy tidbits, like the famous "Nijinsky of cunnilingus" comment (although, spoiler, we never find out who that was), but overall, I was disappointed that she left out the dirty details I expected from a romance memoir.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Renee Miller

    Really silly fragmented and poorly written book about a sad little rich girl, neglected and unloved by her parents who was constantly seeking love throughout her life. Gloria Vanderbilt was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and really never knew what hard work and achievement was all about. Her success was do to being well connected. The men in her life seemed very dry, full of themselves and were probably selfish lovers. The only thing I found intriguing was that Howard Hughes ate steak, gr Really silly fragmented and poorly written book about a sad little rich girl, neglected and unloved by her parents who was constantly seeking love throughout her life. Gloria Vanderbilt was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and really never knew what hard work and achievement was all about. Her success was do to being well connected. The men in her life seemed very dry, full of themselves and were probably selfish lovers. The only thing I found intriguing was that Howard Hughes ate steak, green peas and a baked potato every day. Although very beautiful, I don’t think Gloria was a good actress and her painting was childlike and whimsical, more on a grade school level…..again opportunity due to money and connection. She did have a good eye for design, must be a Vanderbilt thing. I did feel very sad that she lost a son, so tragic. If she had not dropped out of high school, she might have been smart enough to realize she was being swindled….glad she sued. I don’t think her “secret heart” was ever fulfilled, but rather shattered…..poor little rich girl. Wonder what the Commodore would have thought. After visiting a few of the Vanderbilt over-the-top mansions, I got interested in the family history. Now on to Fortunes Children to read about the other unfortunate ones.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeaninne Escallier Kato

    I chose this book in the library yesterday because I was moved by Anderson Cooper's documentary of his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. I found her to be a very sensitive, loving mother and I knew somewhat about the loves and losses of her long life. This book, while not exactly high literature, tickled my heart strings with a raw, simple truth about being vulnerable and human. We women love to read about other women's love interests, but knowing Gloria wrote candidly in this book about her sex life w I chose this book in the library yesterday because I was moved by Anderson Cooper's documentary of his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. I found her to be a very sensitive, loving mother and I knew somewhat about the loves and losses of her long life. This book, while not exactly high literature, tickled my heart strings with a raw, simple truth about being vulnerable and human. We women love to read about other women's love interests, but knowing Gloria wrote candidly in this book about her sex life well into her 80's; well, how can one not find this charming? I especially connected with Gloria's fascination about the simple joys in daily life, for example, the dew on a fallen leaf, or the feel of weather on a long walk. As we age, wisdom gives us this appreciation, which to me, is the basis for a happy, self-fulfilled life. Having said all that, all I have left to say is: GLORIA, YOU GO GIRL!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I had this book in my TBR queue for a few years then upon hearing that Gloria Vanderbilt had passed away decided it was time to read it. In it’s relatively few pages, she shares various episodes of her privileged but at times tragic life. She is candid about her lovers (some of whom she married, even more that she did not), her children and the impact of losing one son as he commits suicide in front of her. She freely admits that most of what she did and how she approached life was because of th I had this book in my TBR queue for a few years then upon hearing that Gloria Vanderbilt had passed away decided it was time to read it. In it’s relatively few pages, she shares various episodes of her privileged but at times tragic life. She is candid about her lovers (some of whom she married, even more that she did not), her children and the impact of losing one son as he commits suicide in front of her. She freely admits that most of what she did and how she approached life was because of the chasm between her unavailable mother. Her 95 years as a “poor, little rich girl”, heiress, actress, writer, painter, fashion designer was a full one yet one feels that there was, even at the end, a part of her that would never be filled.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    I will try to find the audio for this. I listened to the audio of her and Anderson Cooper's book and hearing her tell the story in her own voice was marvelous. I could hear her in this one too. She is an honest storyteller with a sly wit. I would love to meet her. Unlike many who want to tell their life story and get attention for their woes, she gives proper credit to the benefits of being Gloria Vanderbilt. In fact, she requires herself to achieve more because of it. I will try to find the audio for this. I listened to the audio of her and Anderson Cooper's book and hearing her tell the story in her own voice was marvelous. I could hear her in this one too. She is an honest storyteller with a sly wit. I would love to meet her. Unlike many who want to tell their life story and get attention for their woes, she gives proper credit to the benefits of being Gloria Vanderbilt. In fact, she requires herself to achieve more because of it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Jay

    Like having a fabulous conversation with your favorite aunt (over champagne I imagine), Vanderbilt is fun and warm and has lived the life. After spending the night with Brando, she is at a party kissing Gene Kelley while Lauren Bacall is singing in the next room. Wow, difficult to resist. I read in practically one sitting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    DEBRINA WOODS

    Great glimpse into an intriguing lady. Great glimpse into an intriguing lady, who lived in very interesting times. Read after reading bios of Carol Mattheau and Oona Oniell-Chapman as well as of her mother Gloria (Morgan) Vanderbilt and her sister Thelma

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard D. Barr

    I imagine the Commodore would have been just as disappointed as I was. Thought I would see a woman of substance, but instead revealed one who never really overcame the rejection at her early life. Appears Gloria is truly a Vanderbilt.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Billie Bates

    Wow, what a journey. Gloria Vanderbilt really lived big, especially when she was a teen and just coming into her own power after a troubled and very public childhood. This one is very dishy and revealing and was a pretty quick read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    Awful, uninspired; superficial Wow what a waste of hours I’ll never regain. poorly written, jumps around, no linear story, skips many details about her art, clothing line, her first set of kids.....just odd

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This was a fun, quick read & felt like sitting down with Gloria Vanderbilt and having a meandering conversation with her, full of good dish about her romances. What's not to like about that? This was a fun, quick read & felt like sitting down with Gloria Vanderbilt and having a meandering conversation with her, full of good dish about her romances. What's not to like about that?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    A quick read about her affairs with the famous. Not that great.

  24. 4 out of 5

    L

    Very quick read due to the conversational tone. She was a hot ticket.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    GV’s recent obituaries included this memoir so I decided to read. Best thing: it was a quick short read. Lovers galore and a few mouth dropping moments.

  26. 4 out of 5

    josette ringuette

    Fine Storytelling I really enjoyed this book. Stories told well by a person that had a great passion for life. Thanks for a few of your life's stories Gloria Vanderbilt. RIP Fine Storytelling I really enjoyed this book. Stories told well by a person that had a great passion for life. Thanks for a few of your life's stories Gloria Vanderbilt. RIP

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roland

    It was fun to read about her.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vickie

    This was odd, yet interesting. I would like to read more about Gloria's life. This was odd, yet interesting. I would like to read more about Gloria's life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helen Cargile

    Short memoir, not much to it, really. I think Gloria’s taste in lovers was, for the most part strange- but to each their own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    April

    Not what I expected. Bland with no real insight into her life. All of the things she 'revealed' could have been looked up almost anywhere. There was no substance to the book just ramblings. Not what I expected. Bland with no real insight into her life. All of the things she 'revealed' could have been looked up almost anywhere. There was no substance to the book just ramblings.

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