Irving Berlin's (1888-1989) oldest daughter here tells of growing up with the composer of some of America's most popular songs, including ``White Christmas,'' ``God Bless America'' and ``Easter Parade.'' Barrett (An Accident of Love) details her parents' well-publicized romance and marriage, which scandalized her mother's family, and describes life in a household with a Catholic mother from one of the country's wealthiest families and a Jewish father who earned millions with his music though his parents were penniless Russian immigrants. It was a storybook childhood, with loving parents, governesses and innumerable servants; homes in Los Angeles, the Catskills and New York City; and daily contact with the rich and the famous. Yet there was a dark side: the death of the Berlins' infant son; ``dry spells'' when the composer could not write; and periods of depression for both him and his wife, culminating in his later years as a virtual recluse. Barrett's bittersweet memoir is affectionate yet candid. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Songwriter Irving Berlin's eldest daughter (American Beauty, LJ 9/15/80) provides a memorable look at growing up in a multicultural yet privileged family in New York and California during the 1930s and 1940s. She recalls cultural and personal milestones of that era both from an adult perspective and from the perspective of the sometimes spoiled child and adolescent she claims-convincingly and with good humor-to have been. Her father lived to more than 100 years of age, and Barrett continues her narrative through her own adulthood and his final years. Although Berlin's marriage to a non-Jew was considered a major media scandal, his later family life seems to have been eminently wholesome though not without problems and troubling creative dry spells. Barrett's writing is exceptionally good, providing a unique look at a creative life while maintaining the high interest level one would expect from a first-rate novel. Highly recommended for public libraries and music collections.-James E. Ross, Seattle P.L.