The wickedly candid New York Times bestesller that Ava Gardner dared not publish during her lifetime—“the heartbreaking memoir of the ultimate heartbreaker” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars during the 1940s and ’50s, an Oscar-nominated leading lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart, among others. But this riveting account of her storied life, including her marriage to Frank Sinatra, and career had to wait for publication until after her death—because Gardner feared it was too revealing.
“I either write the book or sell the jewels,” Gardner told coauthor Peter Evans, “and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” The legendary actress serves up plenty of gems in these pages, reflecting with delicious humor and cutting wit on a life that took her from rural North Carolina to the heights of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Tell-all stories abound, especially when Gardner divulges on her three husbands: Mickey Rooney, a serial cheater so notorious that even his mother warned Gardner about him; bandleader Artie Shaw, whom Ava calls “a dominating son of a bitch…always putting me down;” and Frank Sinatra (“We were fighting all the time. Fighting and boozing. It was madness. But he was good in the feathers”).
“Her story is a raw-nerved revelation. . . . A vivid portrait” (Chicago Tribune). Witty, penetrating, unique in its voice, it is impossible to put down—“A complete delight” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Peter Evans was a columnist and foreign correspondent with the Daily Express (UK), and wrote for the Los Angeles Times and Vogue, as well as every major newspaper in Britain. His books include Peter Sellers: The Man Behind the Mask and Nemesis. He died in 2012.
"[Makes] you feel as if you're eavesdropping. . . . Watching this Venus ply her mind games, sensuality and stubborn will on [her coauthor, Peter] Evans, it's easy to imagine what it was like to be a love object jerked on her marionette strings in her prime. You wouldn't have a chance."
– Maureen Dowd, The New York Times Book Review
“I read Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations in a delirious gulp. It is absolutely terrific. I couldn’t put it down. Gardner comes across as a flamboyant but tragic figure who always spoke the truth no matter how painful. And the way writer Peter Evans has shaped their conversations is truly remarkable.”
– Patricia Bosworth, author of Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman
“Jaw-dropping anecdotes about film legends and the studio system in its heyday make this an irresistible read. . . . Gardner is funny and frank, and Evans's diligence makes the book not only one of the more revealing celebrity autobiographies published recently, but a candid glimpse into the world of a ghostwriter, star handler, and late-night confidante.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An unvarnished account of [Gardner’s] marriages and affairs in golden-age Hollywood. . . . Give[s] a vivid sense of Gardner’s salty, no-BS personality. . . . Juicy.”
– Kirkus Reviews
"A complete delight. . . . [Gardner's] quotes exude the musk of a woman supremely indifferent to the social proprieties and expectations of her era. . . . Hers is the heartbreaking memoir of the ultimate heartbreaker."
– Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"As a siren, [Gardner] held her own with [Marilyn] Monroe. And to judge by Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations, Gardner was a more interesting woman. . . . A little jewel of a book."
– Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Profane, freewheeling. . . . Earthy, uncensored. . . . A tough and provocative look into the life of the compelling temptress who, though bruised, managed to stay afloat."
– Sandra McElwaine, Washington Times
“Her story is a raw-nerved revelation. . . . A vivid portrait of Gardner.”
– Jeanine Basinger, Chicago Tribune
“A bristling look at Hollywood attitudes and sexual manners.”