Janet, My Mother, and Me is a charming, captivating memoir about a boy growing up in a household of two extraordinary women. William Murray was devoted to his mother, Natalia Danesi Murray, and to his mother's longtime lover, writer Janet Flanner. Even as a teenager, he accepted their unconventional relationship. His portrait of the two most important people in his life is unforgettable. Janet Flanner was already celebrated as the author of a new style of personal journalism for her "Letter from Paris" in The New Yorker when she met the Italian-born Natalia Murray on Fire Island, New York, in 1940. Their encounter, writes William Murray, was a "coup de foudre, a thunderbolt that instantly sent them rushing into each other's arms and forever altered their lives, as well as mine." Murray was already growing up in two cultures on different continents, in New York and Rome, when his mother's life changed so dramatically. He quickly accepted Flanner and the unusual household in which he found himself. (Natalia's mother, Mammina Ester, also lived with them in New York.) His memories of the women and of his own boyhood and adolescence are touching and often hilarious. Janet, My Mother, and Me offers a look at the world in which gay professional women moved in the decades before such relationships became more open and accepted. Murray's mother was a publishing executive and a broadcaster, and Murray, who originally hoped to become an opera singer and trained for that profession, eventually moved into the professions of both his mother and Flanner, becoming a novelist and then for many years an editor and writer at The New Yorker. This is an exuberant, warm, and often poignant memoir with a memorable cast of characters. Beguiling and unusual, it will remain vivid in readers' minds for years to come.
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