Born in the 1920s to nomadic, bohemian parents, Paula Fox is left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage, then cared for by a poor yet cultivated minister in upstate New York. Her parents, however, soon resurface. Her handsome father is a hard-drinking screenwriter who is, for young Paula, "part ally, part betrayer." Her mother is given to icy bursts of temper that punctuate a deep indifference. Never sharing more than a few moments with his daughter, Fox's father allows her to be shuttled from New York City, where she lives with her passive Spanish grandmother, to Cuba, where she roams freely on a relative's sugarcane plantation, to California, where she finds herself cast upon Hollywood's seedy margins. The thread binding these wanderings is the "borrowed finery" of the title of this astonishing memoir of one writer's unusual beginnings, which was instantly recognized as a modern classic.
"Pointillist in detail, lapidary in method and brutal in effect...an eloquent, disturbing memoir." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Original and elegant...A celebration of resilience--both of character and of the memoir form." --Sandra Scofield, Chicago Tribune
"Restrained yet unsparing...Fox is an accomplished writer, with a gift for penetrating to the heart of complex feelings and complicated situations." --Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times