Turtle Point Press 2017
Jeanette Watson’s memoir, “It’s My Party,” will make your eyes glaze. Alas, it’s like a bad party encounter, when somebody rambles on about riches and “famous” people his or her family has wined and dined.
Watson is the granddaughter of Thomas Watson, who became the richest man in the United States in developing IBM into a tech giant, and the daughter of Thomas Watson Jr., IBM’s second president. Watson’s mother was a model who dated John F. Kennedy. Growing up in and surrounded by beauty and wealth, Watson’s memoir offers in-depth details of elaborate travels, vacations and social life she enjoyed.
She glosses over her mental breakdown, and only in the last chapter does she write about her ownership of the New York City’s Books & Co. That experience might have offered anecdotes about the bibliophiles who frequented the bookstore to perhaps offset the memoir’s undue emphasis on wealth.
. . . offers in-depth details of elaborate travels, vacations and social life . . .
Still, for those interested in the lives of famous people, and gazing at mostly dull black-and-white photos, her book might prove fascinating. For instance, in 1938 when she went with her grandparents on a European tour, they stopped in obscure Albania where they dined with King Zog and his wife, the food was served on “solid gold plates.” When she was ten, her parents took her out of school for a trip to Paris, to “cheer” her up, when she was “a bit sad” because grandfather had recently died.
Indeed, she had an extraordinary life worth telling, but she could have offered a more compelling story, especially since much has already been published about her grandfather and father. But Watson failed to add useful insight, especially about her treatment for postpartum depression. She underwent electroshock treatments, and writes this “barbaric” treatment is again making a comeback. “How it works is still somewhat a mystery,” she writes, then abruptly moves on to describe her new home, husband and their maid, Edith, “who wore a white uniform.”
Watson has since sold her bookstore, and is a practitioner of Healing Touch and a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader.
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