Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shocked at how much I loved Patricia Volk's SHOCKED

Audrey Volk and her mother

Cookie has been reading the Memoir SHOCKED by Patricia Volk (2013, Alfred Knopf, 26.95), and I have to tell you that it's one of the best written books I have come across in a long time.  I could not put it down.

Volk's book juxtaposes a look at her own mother, Audrey Volk, against that of fashion designer (and trail blazer) Elsa Schiaperelli.  The common thread is that Audrey Volk is obsessed at looking her best and when a copy of Schaperelli's own autobiography "Shocking Life" falls into the hands of a ten year old Patricia, it launches Patricia on a life altering path that questions what is "beauty" and at what cost, as well her own study of her mother's life and how it is built around her own beauty.

I really recommend this book, especially for those of us who have tried to understand our mothers.  While you may not see your mother in Audrey Volk, you will most certainly appreciate the author's insights. 

And I can see this becoming a movie, a la Julie and Julie with Streep as Elsa Schaperelli herself. 


  1. i heard her on npr, and initially thought this
    might be up my alley, but the more she talked,
    the more i became less interested.

    i will take your praise & reconsider.

    1. Audrey is totally someone all of know. And near her end there is a Moment played out that will remind you of Judy Parfitt in Deloris Claibourne.

  2. Cookie, Have you ever read Francine du Plessix Gray's memoir of her parents "Them"?

  3. I'll keep this one in mind, Cookie.

    I particularly enjoy reading books that are page turners.