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Review: I, Rhoda

February 5, 2013

I, Rhoda

Valerie Harper wanted to be an entertainer for as long as she can remember and her parents were encouraging and supportive – almost to the point of pushing her.  She actually started as a dancer and did have some success in that role.  When she landed a role as a dancer in a Broadway play, she was struck with the acting bug.   Valerie got married and, for a while, she and her first husband lived paycheck to paycheck, often only having a few dollars to their names.   They decided to move to California, and Valerie landed the role of a lifetime – Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show – and she played it to perfection.  The character of Rhoda was spun off, so Valerie had a show of her own.

In her memoir, I, Rhoda, Valerie Harper shares her rise to fame in a groundbreaking role and her later battles with television, as well as the direction her career and life took after Rhoda left the air.   She has gone on to other successes, including a Tony nomination, but will be most fondly remembered as Rhoda.  She played the role so convincingly fans assumed she was Jewish and that she and co-star Julie Kavner were sisters in real life.

I enjoyed this book a great deal but didn’t love it.  I think part of it was the book was different than I expected.  I well remember Harper in her role as Rhoda and, because of the title, I assumed the book would focus on that and her interaction with her co-stars and, while Rhoda was certainly a big part of the book, it wasn’t the main part.  A couple things bugged me – the fact that Harper felt it necessary to name every single person she worked with got old after a while, especially when I didn’t know who they were, and the fact that she loved everyone she met – it seemed they were all wonderful and gorgeous.  I wasn’t looking for celebrity gossip, but it seemed unrealistic to me that everyone she encountered was so wonderful.

I listened to the audio version of I, Rhoda.  It’s narrated by Valerie Harper and she does a great job.  I doubt anyone could have done it better.  The audio’s on 7 CDs and last approximately eight and a half hours.  Fans of Valerie Harper are sure to enjoy this one!

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2013 6:35 am

    Interesting – I wonder how many people even remember her. I remember I was so happy for her when she got her own show. (sort of the “you go girl” kind of thing!)

  2. February 5, 2013 6:40 am

    I remember that fashion statement on the cover! Sounds like it’s good the book is fairly short, or there would have been more names and acknowledgements to make.

  3. February 5, 2013 6:43 am

    I suppose it’s possible celebrities are reluctant to name names of people they didn’t love. Rhoda was such comic relief to serious Mary in The MTM Show. I enjoyed her performance in that role.

  4. February 5, 2013 6:59 am

    I always like Rhoda — glad you enjoyed this one.

  5. February 5, 2013 10:00 am

    This sounds like one to skim. I bet the way she’s complimentary about everybody and remembers to include their names is part of the way she got ahead in the 70s as a nice girl.

  6. February 5, 2013 11:17 am

    I loved her role in the MTM show and the spin-off she did. I’ve also seen and enjoyed her in a few movies from back in the eighties….movies that many probably didn’t see. Like a Neil Simon movie called Chapter Two, with Marsha Mason.

    I haven’t seen her in anything recently. I think I’d enjoy reading this one.

  7. zibilee permalink
    February 5, 2013 11:42 am

    I used to watch a television show where she was the mother to a brood of boys in the eighties, and loved it. I haven’t seen her around in a long time, but she looks great. I also would have probably been annoyed that everyone she met was “nice” or “great, but I can only assume that she didn’t want to make anyone angry or upset. Thanks for the intriguing review, Kathy. I am not sure this one is for me, but I know another reader who would love it!

  8. February 5, 2013 11:52 am

    That’s interesting that she remembers everyone so fondly because I think she has a reputation for being “difficult”. She was fired from her own show, Valerie’s Family I think it was called, because her salary demands were too high. I have the audio book coming to me soon – sounds like I’ll enjoy it!

  9. February 5, 2013 11:53 am

    I remember Rhoda very well, watched her all the time.

  10. talesofwhimsy permalink
    February 5, 2013 11:58 am

    Oh yah that could get old. Great review though.

  11. sandynawrot permalink
    February 5, 2013 12:12 pm

    I watched the show, but I was young enough that it didn’t make a huge impact on me. And I guess with a book like this, I’m not necessarily looking for name-dropping or effusive gushing, I want the real gritty stuff.

  12. February 5, 2013 1:06 pm

    Good review, Kathy!

  13. February 5, 2013 1:08 pm

    I loved her character as Rhoda on the MTM show. Thanks for your honest review of this audio book, Kathy. Valerie Harper would be the perfect person to read this one aloud!

  14. bookingmama permalink
    February 5, 2013 2:52 pm

    I respect that she had a positive attitude, but can everyone she worked with be that nice?

  15. February 5, 2013 2:58 pm

    I never actually saw Rhoda so I’m not sure this is of interest for me.

  16. February 5, 2013 4:42 pm

    I love the character Rhoda.

  17. February 5, 2013 4:57 pm

    I loved both MTM & Rhoda, so I think I’d like to read this book. But…I don’t like repetitiveness, so the gushing about those she met would probably get on my nerves too.

  18. Patty permalink
    February 5, 2013 6:53 pm

    Wow…I can’t imagine listening to her for that long…not that I don’t like her…I just don’t like memoirs!

  19. February 5, 2013 7:43 pm

    I remember her. This one sounds good for her fans. It would annoy me if she kept saying everyone was wonderful…lol. I like at least some dirt in memoirs.

  20. February 5, 2013 7:47 pm

    While I liked Rhoda, 7-8 hours of Valeria might be too much.

  21. February 5, 2013 9:13 pm

    I had a similar problem with a celeb bio I tried to read recently. the author mentioned a lot of people who were no doubt special to him but meant kind of nothing to me, so it was hard to get emotionally involved. and it’s impossible to believe everyone was so wonderful!

  22. February 5, 2013 9:58 pm

    I love celebrity memoirs and this one sounds fun. Weird that she loved everyone and had to mention them all by name though. Thanks for telling us about this one!

  23. February 6, 2013 9:41 am

    I loved Rhoda! But agree with some of the other comments. I would think, when it is all positives of ppl she worked with, it would not be too believeable. I like reading memoirs but after reading your review, I think I will pass on this one.

  24. February 6, 2013 11:13 am

    The name dropping is one of the big reasons I avoid celebrity memoirs most of the time. It drives me crazy!

  25. February 7, 2013 5:46 pm

    I was pretty little when she had her show so her memoir probably wouldn’t work well for me, but I’m always on board when the writer narrates their own story.

  26. February 8, 2013 10:55 am

    We always watched both of the shows she was in but I haven’t heard anything about her in years. I’m not fondmof memoirs that take this road though. I like hearing more about how they felt during their life not so much who they always met. It might be an interesting listen though – doubt I could read it.

  27. February 8, 2013 12:15 pm

    I’m not into celebrity gossip either, so I’ll skip this one. I liked Valerie in her TV show, but I prefer memoirs of people that are inspiring.

  28. February 8, 2013 4:01 pm

    I used to watch MTM aand Rhoda on Nick at Night when I was younger, but I’m not sure that any of it was influential enough on me that I would read her memoir.

  29. February 11, 2013 11:04 pm

    Rhoda was such a great character, doesn’t really sound like my kind of memoir.

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