“A beautiful eulogy and a much-needed corrective” (The New York Times)—a love letter to Maria Schneider, the 1970s movie starlet who catapulted to fame in the controversial film Last Tango in Paris—only to live the rest of her life plagued by scandal, as told from the perspective of her adoring younger cousin.
The late French actress Maria Schneider is perhaps best known for playing Jeanne in the provocative film Last Tango in Paris, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and released to international shock and acclaim in 1972. It was Maria’s first major role, alongside film legend Marlon Brando, when she was barely eighteen years old. The experience would haunt her for the rest of her life, traumatizing her and sparking a tabloid firestorm that only ceased when she began to retreat from the public eye nearly two decades later.
To Maria’s much younger cousin, Vanessa Schneider, Maria was a towering figure of another kind—a beautiful and fearsome fixture in Vanessa’s childhood, a rising star turned pariah whose career and struggles with addiction won the family shame and pride in equal measure. Here, Vanessa recounts the challenges of their overlapping youths and fraught adulthood and reveals both the tragedy and inevitability of Maria’s path in a family plagued by mental illness and in a society rife with misogyny.
Unsentimental and moving, My Cousin Maria Schneider is a love letter to a talented artist and the cousin who admired her, and a powerful story of exploitation and how its lingering effects can reverberate through a lifetime.
Vanessa Schneideris a French journalist and novelist. She lives in Paris, where she works at the prestigious daily newspaper Le Monde. For over ten years, she has written award-winning essays and novels that have been translated abroad. My Cousin Maria Schneider is her eighth book, and her first to be translated into English.
Molly Ringwald’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Vogue, and she is the author of the bestselling novel-in-stories When It Happens to You. She previously translated Lie with Me, a novel by Philippe Besson.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (April 18, 2023)
"There’s anger in Molly Ringwald’s voice as she narrates these accounts of Maria Schneider’s memories of the movie LAST TANGO IN PARIS, in particular Schneider’s notorious sex scene with Marlon Brando. Mostly, Ringwald’s narration captures author Vanessa Schneider’s writing, which sounds as though she’s conversing with her late cousin. Vanessa’s many recollections are brief — full of sadness at Maria’s life, which included a heroin problem and treatment in a sanatorium. She also recalls Maria’s joys, such as drawing with pastels. Ringwald does a great re-creation of the vague, seemingly offhand comments that Maria gave to a reporter’s questions about the shocking movie scene. The audiobook is a loving tribune, even as it reveals the toll that the controversial film took on the actress’s life."