BOOK REVIEW: Marilyn – The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner

When you hear the name Marilyn Monroe, you instantly think of the beautiful blonde with a great sense of humour. But as Lois Banner reveals, she was also surrounded by tragedy and sadness in her life. 

Best known for her sexy and confident persona on screen, behind the scenes Monroe was filled with deep insecurities that had been with her since her childhood and the constant moving around to different foster families when she was a child helping fuel that insecurity of not being wanted.

Instead of creating a typical biography of Monroe’s life, Banner takes readers through her life and looks at it from a psychological point of view – which contains a lot more detail and interesting theories that really attempt to get to the heart of who Marilyn Monroe was.

The trouble is that although this level of detail is fascinating to read, there is plenty of terminology used that can be slightly overwhelming for the reader to understand – if they haven’t studied psychology in some form and it can distract slightly from the flow of the story.

But the book relies on a wide variety of sources and interviews with people, that provides fascinating new insights into Monroe’s character off the screen. For example her constant battles with studio executives about the types of roles that she wanted to play in comparison with the ‘dumb blonde’ roles they offered her – shows remarkable strength in her determination in making her voice heard in a male dominated industry and refusal to conform to their rules.

However, the Monroe that also comes through is one who is needy and who had a fear of being alone – putting strain on many of her relationships with people over the years and is difficult in places to read about as is her constant ‘relationship’ with numerous drugs that she took to help her sleep and for depression.


At the same time, the book also gives readers an understanding of the darker side of Hollywood that lies behind the glamour and the struggle for actresses working in the film industry of that era as Monroe only knew too well herself. It looks at society in America at that time and shows the changing attitudes that came into effect after World War II – all through the eyes of someone who lived through that particular period of change.

Banner also looks at some of the many theories that have emerged about her death at the age of 36 and the events that led up to it, leaving readers with a mystery that will never be solved – did she really want to commit suicide or was there some kind of conspiracy involved in her death? Although when you look initially at her death and her mood at the time perhaps it is the first option, but look closer and you will see a few interesting details that don’t quite fit.

The book is a perfect balance that allows the reader to make up their mind about the true character of one of the most iconic actresses in film history, delivering the facts in a straight forward manner. Fascinating.


Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner is available to buy on Amazon.







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