Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa...and Me: My Improbable Journey from Châteaux in France to the Slums of Calcutta by Tony Cointreau Review & Giveaway

How many people can count among their closest friends Ethel Merman (the Queen of
Broadway), Mother Teresa (beatified by the Vatican in October, 2003), Lee Lehman, (wife of Robert Lehman, head of Lehman Brothers), Pierre Cardin (legendary couturier and major show-business force in Europe), and many others?

Well, Tony Cointreau, a scion of the French liqueur family, can. After a successful international singing career, and several years on the Cointreau board of directors, he felt a need for something more meaningful in his life. His voice had taken him to the stage, and his heart took him to Calcutta. Tony’s childhood experiences with an emotionally remote mother, an angry bullying brother, a cold and unprotective Swiss nurse, and a sexually predatory schoolteacher left him convinced that the only way to be loved is to be perfect. This led him on a lifelong quest for love and for a mother figure.

His first other mother” was the internationally acclaimed beauty Lee Lehman. Then, after Tony met the iconic Broadway diva Ethel Merman, she became his mentor and second other mother.” His memoir describes in detail his intimate family relationships with both women, as well as his years of work and friendship with Mother Teresa, his last other mother.”

Tony’s memoir voices his opinion that he had no special gifts or talents to bring to Mother Teresa’s work and that if he could do it, then anyone could do it. In the end, all that really matters is a willingness to share even a small part of oneself with others.

First, I want to say how beautiful this memoir is.  You always hear the adage that money can't buy happiness and that message resounds loudly in this stunning novel.  I didn't even know who Tony Cointreau was until I read this book, but I feel that I got to know him a bit now after reading.  Growing up with privilege, wealth and wanting for nothing, Tony had no clue what he was missing until he met Mother Teresa.

It's a story of  hope, and unconditional love that is sure to keep you completely mesmerized.  Cointreau writes as if he were sitting in your living room having a conversation with you.  He is a spectacular story teller.  I was enthralled with his interaction with Ethel Merman and Mother Teresa - such a gift.  A beautiful memoir that covers many social issues as well as moral and emotional.  A definite keeper and a must read!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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