This book was at the top of my “Beatle books to read” list that I made a while ago, and I finally got around to reading it! Basically, it’s Pattie Boyd’s autobiography. It’s not strictly about her relationships with George Harrison and Eric Clapton, but that does take up most of the book. I do have some mixed feelings about this book, but overall I really liked it. I enjoyed reading about her childhood growing up in Kenya, especially since my mom was born very near where Pattie grew up, but the real heart of the book is when she describes what it was like being Mrs. Harrison, and later, Mrs. Clapton.
To be completely honest, I only really wanted to read this book as a George Harrison fangirl who wanted to know what it’s like to be married to him, and I wasn’t disappointed in this regard, but I also hoped to learn more about George as a person by reading this book. However, this book doesn’t really provide much insight into George’s character. Maybe I feel this way because I already know so much about him, but I expected such a fascinating and amazing person like George, from the perspective of his ex-wife, to be described in great detail. Other than mentioning that upon first impressions, George was the best looking man she’d ever seen in her life, Pattie doesn’t give any insight into why she fell so completely in love with George. She vividly describes all the trips and holidays they went on and the process of buying and restoring Friar Park, but depth wise, the book doesn’t go much farther than that regarding their relationship.
Perhaps this is a good thing, because although I expected to have my opinion of George knocked down a few notches by reading this book, that didn’t happen. The only thing I really learned about him that surprised me was that he did a lot more cocaine than I’d previously been aware of, but by now, I’ve learned that drugs were a part of all of my favorite musicians’ lives, so I basically just ignored this. Although she eventually left him, Pattie says that she never stopped loving him, but she just couldn’t deal with his constant infidelities and increasing obsession with the Indian culture that caused him to lose interest in her. This makes sense, but when she starts describing her tumultuous relationship with Eric Clapton, she loses me.
While I still love George dearly as a person after reading this book, I definitely do not feel the same way about Eric Clapton. From Pattie’s perspective, he comes across as a very talented musician, but also a severe alcoholic with a very unpredictable personality and basically a needy, self-centered jerk. I’m sure he was a wonderful and creative person to be around, but I honestly can’t understand why she fell in love with him so much that she left George for him in a heartbeat. I don’t get what he had going for him that George didn’t. Eric successfully seduced her away from his best friend, but once he had her, things didn’t get better. Pattie talks about how she basically had to tend to Eric’s every need when they were together and live with his wild moods due to his propensity for drinking, and how her life revolved entirely around him. She pretty much became his maid, and seemed to lose all of her identity and self-confidence in the process. He mistreated her, and I think she regretted leaving George for the rest of her life.
While George comes across as the overall lovely guy I’ve always envisioned him to be, my opinion of Eric has definitely soured a bit after reading this book. But I still like his music a lot, and “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight”, both written about Pattie, are two fantastic songs.
I did get emotional at the end of the book where Pattie discusses her reaction to George’s death, saying that she couldn’t imagine a world without him in it and that she still had great love for him. I thought this quote was rather telling about the quality of George’s character:
“When I left him for Eric, he had said that if things didn’t work out, ever, I could always come to him and he would look after me. It was such a selfless, loving, generous thing to say and it had always been tucked away at the back of my mind. Now that sense of security was gone.”
I’m happy that Pattie and George remained friends after their divorce, and how George so easily forgave her for leaving him, to the point where he actually attended her and Eric’s wedding, is beyond me.
So, where do I stand on this book, once and for all? Well, if you like George Harrison and are interested in the individual Beatles’ lives, read it. If you like Pattie Boyd and wish you were George’s wife, read it. If you like Eric Clapton’s music and accept that he wasn’t always a great guy, read it. But, if believe that George and Eric were saints and absolute darlings 24/7, don’t read it because you will be disappointed. They weren’t, unfortunately. Pattie seems like a nice lady, though.
This book doesn’t have all that much depth, and it is very shallow in parts, but it is an interesting account of one woman’s very interesting life with two of the most famous musicians in the world. For that reason, I’d recommend it.
I hope this review is satisfactory! Have a lovely weekend!