“All of these fascinating experiences and relationships described in Loose Diamonds . . . And Other Things I’ve Lost (and Found) Along the Way add to the richness of this loosely woven set of essays. Ms. Ephron’s thoughts on marriage, divorce as well as her ‘Tips for Women getting a Divorce’ are written with wit and panache; however, some parts of the book . . . miss the mark . . .”
Through this book, Amy Ephron demonstrates her agility in engaging us and effectively bringing us into the world as she sees it. Loose Diamonds . . . And Other Things I’ve Lost (and Found) Along the Way is comprised of fascinatingly charming characters, loosely woven together in an essay format. Author Ephron recounts memories as well as produces an ongoing commentary on contemporary urban life.
One of the most memorable characters that she recalls with great detail is the larger than life Stiles Oliver Clemens, aka “The Birdman.” Mr. Clemens, a world renowned architect, inhabits an abode that is magical—a sanctuary that includes a magnificent collection of art, collectible furniture pieces, and children’s fairy tales housed in a regal library. But more significantly for Ms. Ephron is that residing within this magical place is a cornucopia of tropical birds, i.e. parrots, macaws etc. Also Included in this paradise is a kaleidoscope of brightly colored trees and flowers that transform his house into a lush, fragrant, beguiling garden.
In addition to the lush environment of Mr. Stiles’s home is an enchanting, enthralling man in his sixties. His seemingly egoless and gentle demeanor leads to a mentoring relationship with the youthful Ms. Ephron that becomes important for both of them. Under his tutelage, she learns about the various schools of art from ancient Greek to the European Masters. The relationship that develops between these seemingly oddly matched individuals becomes a friendship in which each of them becomes inextricably linked to the other for a period of time that is most memorable to each of them. Then without warning, one day this magical world is dismantled: the birds are removed cage by cage and a “For Sale” sign appears in front of the house. This chapter of a child’s ultimate fantasy comes to a close abruptly and yet with grace and dignity as the young Amy Ephron learns to say goodbye.
There are several colorful people that Ms. Ephron meets along her journey in Loose Diamonds . . . And Other Things I’ve Lost (and Found) Along the Way. As she introduces each one to the reader, she celebrates her relationships with each person and, as a result, skillfully shares her humor and the wisdom she’s gleaned from each of those experiences.
Another captivating and provocative experience author Ephron shares is her interview for a magazine with Lynette Squeaky Fromme at the Spahn Ranch in California—yes, the Squeaky Fromm who later attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford. Aware of the Manson murders and the trial taking place at the time in Los Angeles, Ms. Ephron is intrigued by the trial and the cast of characters that are attracted to the Manson Family. After a fight with her abusive father, Squeaky is standing under a streetlamp when Charlie Manson approaches her. She tells Ms. Ephron, “Charlie was the first person who ever told me I was pretty. And so I went with him.” She finds Fromme to be intelligent and “well-read.”
All of these fascinating experiences and relationships described in Loose Diamonds . . . And Other Things I’ve Lost (and Found) Along the Way add to the richness of this loosely woven set of essays. Ms. Ephron’s thoughts on marriage, divorce as well as her “Tips for Women getting a Divorce” are written with wit and panache; however, some parts of the book related to shopping or champagne and topics such as “Why I Quit Being Psychic” miss the mark in terms of depth and seem disconnected from the rest of the essays. To some readers, those seemingly unrelated essays lessen the impact of the whole, detracting from what could be a brilliantly insightful book.