Friday, January 5, 2024

The Hangover Games by Sophie Heawood is one of the few books that I have been able to reread in recent years. A hilarious memoir that takes place between London and Los Angeles and which I am so prepossess with that I will read everything Heawood recommends later. And it so happened that when she recently shared a photo of Emma Forrest’s Busy Being Free on the day it was released, I bought it shortly after and put it on top of my ever-growing pile of books that I plan to finish before the out.

A sucker for a memoir – especially one between two cities I lived in – I may have spent the only sunny weekend we’ll have in Bondi this year, on the beach with Emma’s book, and oh, what a joyful weekend it was.

Busy being free book review

The track Busy Being Free is praised by everyone, from Nigella Lawson to Lisa Taddeo, and comes from Joni Mitchell’s song Cactus Tree, in which Mitchell sings about an anonymous woman’s need for freedom and resistance to romantic Commitment. Somehow, the woman “thinks she loves them all” but is ultimately always “too busy being free”.”- a performance that blends wonderfully with the melodies of Busy Being Free.

Emma Forrest’s second memoir, Busy Being Free, is a vivid and graphic account of a crumbling Hollywood marriage and its aftermath, as well as the author’s lifelong romantic passion. It opens in London – where Forrest moved after her annulment from her Australian actor husband- when another mother visits her new apartment and asks:

“How did this happen to you?”- referring to Emma’s move from a huge family home in the Hollywood Hills to a small top floor apartment in north central London. What follows is a stunning tale of loneliness and romance, heartbreak, marriage and annulment, and an honest look at the paths we take when life doesn’t quite go according to plan.

The narrative weaves between Emma’s life before, during and after her marriage, offering readers an devoted glimpse into the life of a lasting romantic as she sails from London to New York, then to sunny California before returning to London – the city that shamed raising her young daughter alone during the recent times.

When her annulment coincides with the election of Trump, Emma takes a vow of celibacy and, in this spirit, she decides to renounce both men and intimacy. after spending much of his past life doing the absolute opposite.

We met a variety of men during Busy Being Free – including her worst venereal experiences and later some of her best – and despite her frequent appearances, Emma does a wonderful job writing The memoir about much more than men.

A glimpse into what it means to be a woman and what it means to define yourself outside the framework so often attributed to women – Busy Being Free is a captivating account of being alone that you will want to read in one insatiable sitting.

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