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Review: Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

[ 4 ] March 30, 2012 |

Reviewed by Jill Franclemont

Ali Wentworth has lived quite a life. I confess I didn’t know who she was at first. From the blurb I learned that she was married to George Stephanopoulos and is the daughter of Ronald Reagan’s White House Press Secretary. As a former resident of Washington, DC, how could I resist? I enjoy memoirs, love DC, and couldn’t imagine turning down a book with blurbs by Kathy Griffin, Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin AND the author’s mom… Plus the synopsis for Ali in Wonderland called it “addictively funny” and included a slew of adjectives I am quite fond of, like “off-the-wall”, “hilarious”, and “borderline insane”.

Will I never learn?

No book that is self-described as “hilarious” ever really is. I think it’s akin to real smart people talking about their own intelligence or real rich people about their own money – if you’ve got it, you know it, and you don’t have to tell everyone. That’s what happened here.

Sure, there are funny bits. Ali was a precocious child and got even more precocious as she grew up, so there are some very cute and very funny stories. Much of this is standard “poor little rich girl” fare, set against the backdrop of the DC political scene. She goes out of her way to shock, – again, fairly standard fare for a memoir of this type – but while she is occasionally over-the-top, it’s usually in a fairly predictable way.

She’s not exactly as outré as one would expect a former In Living Colour girl to be, but her stories are, for the most part, fun to read. As an added bonus, they’re not always entirely believable – a fact which I felt actually added to, rather than detracted from, their charm.

I know she’s a comic actress, and that “hilarious” is the type of adjective a publicist will always use in that context. But I will offer the same, unsolicited, advice I often do: be careful, oh mighty publicists and press agents, because over-billing may sell initial copies and drive initial interest, but it almost always guarantees a case of reviewer let-down.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable). If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth – that is, all of the teehees, musings, rants, book reviews, writing exercises, and witticisms of her burgeoning writing career.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Category: Entertainment, Humor, Memoirs, Nonfiction

Comments (4)

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  1. 3

    [...] Book Review: Ali in Wonderland Jill Elizabeth posted this on May 8th, 2012 Hello again folks, back again with another memoir – something we haven’t had in a little bit…  My review copy of Ali in Wonderland was provided courtesy of LuxuryReading.com, which also hosted the original (shorter) post of this book review on March 30 (available here). [...]

  2. 2
    Colleen Turner says:

    I thought this one sounded interesting. I remember the author from In Living Color and thought her crazy personas from that would be an intriguing contrast to her being from an upper crust DC family. That being said it sounds like she maybe tried too hard to be funny which usually just seems to fall flat. Thanks for the review!

    • 2.1

      Thanks, as always, Colleen and Carol! Yeah, I was disappointed too. I swear, one day I will learn to stop picking up books that promise to be hilarious… They really do almost always disappoint.

      I also think some of the problem may be the sheer volume of this type of “poor little rich girl”/”good girls gone wild” memoir. I get it – you did crazy, shocking things. But your crazy, shocking things were the same crazy things every other minor (or even major) celebrity did, so they’re not really that crazy or shocking anymore. Which is maybe as sad as it is disappointing, eh?

      Anyway, thanks again!
      Jill Elizabeth recently posted..Book Review: Slipping Reality by Emily Beaver

  3. 1
    Carol Wong says:

    I love funny books am so very disappointed when they don’t deliver. One way to avoid that is to read the first few pages on Amazon.com. I recently gave up reading a book that I had won. It too had a celebrity say that it couldn’t be beat. I trust book reviewers more than the celebrities. Thank you for the book review. I will avoid this one. One note, I don’t read about celebrities very often, so many of them seem to want to shock and are not too deep.

    Carol Wong

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