Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon review – singer’s witty self-analysis

From showbiz anecdotes to illness and exploitation, this autobiography gives us Bohemia with the petals falling off

A study of a traumatic childhood, a portrait of a troubled marriage, a string of showbiz anecdotes: one autobiography can’t contain Simon’s volatile life. Students of A-list gossip will be titillated as the singer candidly recalls encounters with Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty (partial inspiration for her hit “You’re So Vain”) and Mick Jagger, not to mention a curious cruise ship interlude with Sean Connery. The pervasive atmosphere, however, is one of unease. Daughter of Simon & Schuster founder Dick Simon, she had a privileged early life, but the starry parties and beach houses were shadowed by illness and sexual exploitation. Her mother betrayed her father with a 19-year-old household employee – an affair Simon suggests hastened her father’s death – while Simon was persistently sexually abused by a teenage family friend. Her ripe prose catches this scent of decay, also present in her account of marriage to fellow musician James Taylor, who halts her pregnancy announcement with his news: he’d just been “checked out for clap”. This is Bohemia with the petals falling off, but with her thoughtful, witty self-analysis, she emerges smelling of roses.

Boys in the Trees is published by Constable. To order a copy for £8.19 (RRP £9.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Contributor

Victoria Segal

The GuardianTramp

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