As a Beatles fan and a person who came of age during the sixties, I was eager to read Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me. Prior to reading this tome, my knowledge of Pattie Boyd was almost nonexistent. I also realized how little I really knew about the lives behind the public images of the rockers she married: George Harrison…and later, Eric Clapton.
In the early sections, Ms. Boyd chronicles growing up in Africa and also describes some of her feelings of abandonment when she was shipped off to various boarding schools. Her relationship–or lack thereof–with her father must have left a hole in her life that she sought to fill through her relationships with men in adulthood.
Aside from the details of her life as a child, a model, and as the wife of these famous men, there wasn’t a lot of Pattie’s interior world that I learned from this book. I didn’t get a strong sense of her identity. Some of her later reflections show that during her marriages, she did not have her own identity, and a strong sense of self was a major ingredient missing in her life.
After the divorces, when she came into her own as a professional photographer and learned to stand alone more completely, I believe that she did finally discover who she is. And when she ponders the disasters that befell some of her friends, those who died of the “excesses of our time,” she concludes:
“I was lucky. I survived. I didn’t have the addictive gene or I might have gone down with Eric. We might have drunk ourselves to death. But given my life over again, I wouldn’t change anything. I love music. I loved everything that went with rock ‘n’ roll. I loved being at the heart of such creativity and being young in such a stimulating and exciting era. I have known some amazing people and had some unforgettable experiences.”
If the rest of us can look back at our lives and reach these kinds of conclusions, we, too, could consider ourselves lucky. While not terribly insightful, except for the occasional moments, this was a book I enjoyed. 3.5 stars.