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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
In this spell-binding, electrically charged and heart-breaking memoir, The Philosopher’s Daughter, Jennifer Stace tells one of the most unbelievable, unforgettable stories a reader may ever have the privilege to encounter – the tale of an improbable, eccentric, ecstatic, tragic and incredible life, filled with cameos from the notoriously famous, beginning with the poet W.B. Yeats, intellectuals like Bertrand Russell, a minor genius known as Albert Einstein – segueing to entertainers like Cher, Bette Midler, and Robin Williams, along with a host of other famous artists, musicians, and dancers, and appropriately capping off this impressive list with dramatic ferocity: a spectacular performance by the 1994 L.A. Northridge earthquake.
Although one might surmise that this must be yet another celebrity autobiography and gossipy tell-all, The Philosopher’s Daughter is not even minimally a tale of the rich and famous. This is about a real human life, brutal and raw, intermixed with relationships both precious and defiled, filled with an agonizing trajectory of pitfalls and defeats, wrong turns taken with commensurate, dreadful consequences, too many deaths and farewells, especially of her most precious child, Michael, lived by a rabidly independent woman too bent on living life her way to know why she does what she does, or why she makes such devastating choices.
Until she finds herself alone at eighty, living atop a hill in Baja, California, taking an overdue lifetime moment to sit quietly, to remember, and finally to reflect – all gloriously profound qualities bequeathed to her by her highly regarded philosopher father with a poet’s heart, Professor Walter T. Stace. Ms. Stace makes no apologies for her life, nor should she. If anything, she teaches us how a life should be lived, not necessarily according to rules, plans, or expectations, but simply how to live one’s life fully, emotionally engaged, and always true to one’s own nature. Obviously, as she so superbly demonstrates and reveals in this volatile and gripping memoir, this is not a prescription for happiness as such. It is, however, the only way to garner meaning and possibly to end one’s life with very few regrets.