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Behind The Mask is an exploration of Joy Adamson as a passionate, tempermental and controversial woman, and also of her difficult and tempestuous marriage to the wild man of the bush, George Adamson. The book traces one of the most remarkable relationships ever recorded between animal and human: Joy and Elsa, the lioness.
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Kenyan writer Cass rips the mask off Joy Adamson of Born Free fame to reveal a woman of monstrous flaws, considerable talents, and a redeeming generosity. The second daughter of an ill-matched Austrian couple who soon divorced, Adamson was raised in Vienna by a beloved grandmother. There, in the years between the wars, she studied music, then flitted ``from one new artistic endeavor to another.'' Stunningly beautiful, she had a number of affairs, the most serious of which led to an illegal abortion that nearly killed her. Her Jewish first husband, worried about the Nazis, sent her to East Africa in 1936 to scout out the possibility of settling there. It was a fateful trip, for during it Adamson not only met the botanist who would be her second husband but became enthralled by Africa itself. Divorcing her first husband, she settled in Kenya, married the botanist, and accompanied him throughout the country collecting rare plants. Adamson, though difficult and demanding, proved herself a real trooper in the wild, and her paintings of plant specimens earned her a considerable reputation as an artist. But congenitally restless in bed and elsewhere, she soon was having further affairs, a 1942 visit to the remote camp of naturalist George Adamson leading to her third marriage. Cass, who knew Joy, describes the raising of Elsa the lion cub; the writing of Born Free; the realities of the Adamsons' marriage--more a bruising brawl than a love-fest; Joy's murder, probably by a servant she'd typically mistreated; her great generosity to conservation; and Joy herself, who, despite all her faults, ``remained passionately in love with life--a firm believer that, through animals, man would discover his soul.'' Cass, gossipy but fair-minded, shows Adamson to have been as ruthless and predatory as her beloved lions but also--sometimes--as splendid. (Color and b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
To those who had known her intimately, Adamson's 1980 murder came as no surprise, for by the end of her life she had made numerous enemies and alienated many of her friends. But for the rest of the world, Joy was the gentle woman--as portrayed "with a delicate sweetness" by Virginia McKenna in the film version of her best-selling 1960 book Born Free --who had reared the orphan lion cub Elsa and returned her to the wild. Cass, whose Kenya childhood memories include playing with Elsa, looks behind the carefully groomed public image and reveals a complex and emotionally difficult woman desperate for love. A large part of her book is devoted to Joy's tempestuous marriage to her third husband, George Adamson. While Joy's story is fascinating, this rather slapdash biography is disappointing; there is very little analysis of the Adamsons' role in wildlife conservation, and, strangely, Cass fails to mention that George was murdered nine years after Joy's death. An optional purchase.
- Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110752811185
Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0752811185
Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1997. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0752811185
Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0752811185