Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review of "Born With Teeth" by Kate Mulgrew

Inspired to become an actress in grade school, Kate Mulgrew strove to fulfill that goal and - by dint of ambition, talent, hard work, and good luck - succeeded. Kate grew up in a large Irish family with somewhat eccentric parents - an artistic mom and a free-spirited dad - who drank hard, partied hard, and had child after child. Though there was apparently much love in the family, there was never enough food or attention to the children. The tragic illness of a young sister made the situation even more difficult. 

Yearning to get professional training as an actress, Kate left home at a young age to go to school and study her craft, and soon landed roles that kick-started her career. These early parts of the book are compelling and touching.

While pursuing her career Kate had a series of romantic entanglements. It seems that Kate was prone to falling in love, and when a man attracted her she made it her business to snag him - even if he was involved with another woman. In one case this led to an unexpected pregnancy and a daughter given up for adoption, an event which haunted Kate for decades. 

Kate also married and had two sons whom she apparently loved, but neglected for her career. The marriage soured and came to a difficult end and Kate was soon after another man. Kate’s inevitable breakups were as dramatic as the beginnings of her relationships, and led to much heartache. Kate describes all her romances in some detail and I felt they took up too much of the book. 

Intermingled with the romances, however, were touching/amusing scenes in which Kate interacted with friends and family or hobnobbed with fellow actors. She talks about getting the role of Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager and narrates a compelling tale about a trip she took with her mother prior to her mom's serious illness. These sections were interesting and it would have been great to read more of them.

All in all the book is just okay for me. I felt like some of the scenes didn’t ring true (perhaps too much author’s license) and that the story was too much about Kate’s love life and too little about her professional life. Still, the book is worth reading and gives some insight into the life of a talented and successful woman.

Rating: 3 stars

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