This book, written by Frank Sinatra’s youngest child, is a fascinating insight into the man behind the music. It’s also a book of two halves. In the first half, Tina describes life as a young child, with a loving but often absent father – Frank having left Tina’s mother Nancy for Ava Gardner, while Tina was a baby. Although clearly very close to her mother, Tina speaks well of Gardner, and even better of her father’s third wife, Mia Farrow, with whom she became good friends.
In the second half of the book, things take a sombre turn, as Frank marries his fourth and final wife, Barbara Marx, who was formerly married to Marx brother Zeppo. The difficulties between Barbara and Frank’s children – Nancy, Frank Jr. and Tina herself – have been fairly well documented, but here, any gaps are filled in, and Tina lets rip at Barbara. (I have read Barbara Sinatra’s book, ‘Lady Blue Eyes‘, which tells the story from the other side. I didn’t enjoy that book anywhere near as much as those, or take to the author, and given the stories which were flying about within the industry while Frank and Barbara were married, I tend to believe Tina’s side of the story, although obviously only those who were there know the full truth.)
Tina describes how her mother and father remained close and loyal friends for the rest of Frank’s life, and how they often talked about getting back together. It is sad to read about the troubles within the family upon Frank’s fourth marriage, and occasionally Tina makes a few assumptions about Barbara’s motives or actions, but it certainly appears that Barbara intentionally made life difficult for the Sinatra children, and caused a rift between them and their father. Toward the end of his life, Frank Sinatra suffered from various illnesses, and was also diagnosed with dementia, and there is a real sense of tenderness in how Tina talks of her father. His death and funeral were beautifully described, by a daughter who clearly loved her dad very deeply.
I would certainly recommend this book to any fans of Frank Sinatra – it’s an interesting and engaging read. It’s not the book to read if you want to find out more about his career; it’s definitely a very personal memoir concentrating on Frank’s private life, but all the more enjoyable for it.