The News-Times

‘Garbo’ a mesmerizin­g look at film’s greatest enigma


“Garbo” by Robert Gottlieb (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Coming a century after the Swedish actress’ film debut, Robert Gottlieb’s biography of Greta Garbo is a classic movie lover’s dream. Enriching his insightful reconsider­ation of Garbo’s life and career are wonderful photos, a selection of essays from the past, and anecdotes from those who encountere­d the enigmatic star.

It’s just the kind of book the famously private Garbo would have hated — and read — every page. As Gottlieb explains, her desire for privacy did not make her immune to interest in what people were saying about her. But friends who talked to writers or, worse, wrote their own books about her would be erased from her life.

Gottlieb asks, “What are we to make of this strange creature who, without trying, compelled the attention of the world in a way no other star had done?” He offers many avenues for thought. Along the way he brings to life Garbo’s time and place — particular­ly Europe, Hollywood and America between world wars — and fills her story with other unique characters.

It’s fascinatin­g from beginning to end. You’ll want to be alone, too, with “Garbo.”

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