Michel Schneider - Marilyn’s Last Sessions: A Novel
Poorly structured fictional history of the troubled star's final sessions on the couch
By including the words ‘a novel’ in his title, Schneider has bought himself a rather enormous caveat. Namely that some aspects of this semi-biographical account of Marilyn Monroe and her psychoanalyst Ralph Greenson are true – others not. If that sounds like a recipe for frustration, wait until you see the structure.
During the course of almost 400 pages, Schneider re-visits the former haunts of both Monroe and Greenson. We flit from Los Angeles to New York, London, Vienna and back again – rarely in any chronological order. Snapshots of Monroe’s troubled past, her constant search for happiness on several analyst’s couches, and dealings with Hollywood’s leading men and directors are fascinating.
Similarly, Greenson’s dichotomous personality - convivial party host one minute, empathic therapist the next – makes for interesting reading. But despite being an accurate metaphor for the kind of butterfly thinking that takes place in therapy, the novel’s relentless toing and froing serves little purpose other than to confuse the reader.