Not the typical Hollywood star, it stands to reason that Sharon Stone‘s The Beauty of Living Twice isn’t the typical Hollywood memoir either.
For starters, it’s beautifully written. Candid and conversational, it is at times lyrical and evocative, at others harrowing and heartbreaking. Revelations of childhood abuse, Hollywood toxicity, and the agony of recovery sit alongside the expected name-drops, charity galas, and celebrity glitz; an uneasy dichotomy that suits Stone’s narrative to a tee.
Opening with the near-fatal stroke that saw her out of the limelight for two years, Stone looks back over her childhood, her health, and, of course, that moment in Basic Instinct that made her a star. And though Stone’s decision to jump around her own timeline occasionally makes things a little hard to follow, The Beauty of Living Twice still makes for compelling reading.
Given Stone’s life experiences, her fundraising track record, and the outspokenness she showcases here, it’s likely no surprise that this a book littered with calls for change. That this examination of her own benevolence feels occasionally self-congratulatory is no shocker either – not only because it’s what we might expect from a Hollywood memoir, but also because Stone knows she’s worked too hard to not deserve a little recognition for it.
Demanding her dues is, in fact, a common theme across much of the chapters focusing on Stone’s career. It isn’t that she feels she deserves success, as such. Rather that, after years in the industry, she’s certain of her value. She fought for Basic Instinct when she was already a decade into her career, and it was hardly the “get your kit off to get famous” narrative people assumed it was. And, as well as her charity work, there’s other instances when she’s eager to use her growing influence to prop people up – it was Stone that put forward Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and director Sam Raimi for The Quick and the Dead, even paying DiCaprio’s wages out of her own.
At it’s core, The Beauty of Living Twice is an examination of Sharon Stone’s growth into a woman who understands and accepts who she is, and refuses to apologise for it. Written with compelling flair, and with a leaning towards social justice, The Beauty of Living Twice has appeal well beyond what its genre suggests.