Biographies, Loved-it, Non-fiction, Women's

[Nonfiction] 3 Things You Might Not Know About Marilyn Monroe The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan

Yet another biography of Marilyn, you say? There are so many already, right? Well, what if I told you that you need a lot of books to cover the life of a multi-faceted personality? Marilyn was one of a kind, and The Girl covers a part of her life few seem to have spoken about in detail – the feminist side of Marilyn, the way she opened the door for a lot of other women in show business and how she challenges the attitudes of the 50’s – things we all need to speak about more because Marilyn is rarely ever mentioned in these contexts. And this book is precisely the book to show you the side of her you have never seen on TV, or in the movies, or even read about much in other biographies.

3 Things You Might Not Know About Marilyn Monroe

Why is Marilyn Monroe often so underestimated, sometimes to this day? Why is it that we equate this smart, strong and independent woman with the simple blondes she was often cast to play? Little do we know that Marilyn was actually one of the first to shake off the dumb blonde typecast. The Girl is a book of things you might have not known about Marilyn. Let’s look at at least some of these things.

She Was An Avid Bookworm

As it turns out, Marilyn would never walk out of a book store without a stash of books. Can you relate yet? More over, it wasn’t dime novels she read. She preferred quite high brow literature, such as Mann or Kafka. Once she even signed up to a university course – arts and literature at UCLA – and despite frequently being looked down on for attempting to study something apparently ‘not for her’, she could often be seen on campus with books under her arm.

Courtesy of The Marilyn Monroe Collection

Marilyn Wanted To Fight For A Woman’s Right To Both Be Beautiful And Smart

In the 50s this idea was irreconcilable. I mean, the idea of a smart woman wasn’t very popular back then – but smart AND pretty? Now, now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You can only have one thing. But Marilyn challenged this idea.

Time and again, she tried to get difficult roles, and when she wasn’t cast for them, she eventually ended up starting her own film company – a woman. In the 50’s. So before you equate her with her ditzy film characters next time, take a moment to ponder about that. You probably haven’t even started a company. And if you have, it’s not the 50s. And you probably haven’t been typecast as a beautiful blonde with no brain. What she tried to achieve, what she DARED to try, is nothing short of stunning and inspirational. Let me just quote Marilyn in 1959:

“I’d like to be known as a real actress and human being, but listen, there’s nothing wrong with glamour either. I think everything adds up. I’ll never knock glamour. But I want to be in the kind of pictures where I can develop, not just wear tights.”

Marilyn Was One Of The First To Speak Of Sexual Harassment

So many decades later, the #metoo movement is finally taking off. And we’re feeling proud that it’s finally running. But think about how much safer it is for us to speak about this! And now imagine you’re in the 50s. How much more likely would you be to be attacked, if you spoke out? And yet, despite this, Marilyn spoke out about encounters in foster care, and also ones in Hollywood. She had the bravery to do that.

There are many other reasons to find out more about the side of Marilyn nobody really talks about much. I am happy I read this book – as I too had believed in my mid-twenties that my regard of Marilyn might have been wrongly placed (I loved her a lot when I was a teen), but after reading this book, I realized that my feelings were always in the right place. I’m proud to look up to Marilyn, as sadly as her story ended – there’s even more reason to love her for that, and for all she tried to stand in in a world where women like her weren’t really welcome. Marilyn was truly a woman ahead of her times.

I thank Perseus Books, Running Press for giving me a copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion. You can buy the book here at Book Depository and buying using this link supports the blog.

Have you read any books about Marilyn? Have you ever been fascinated by her? Or did you also hold a stereotyped opinion of her?

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JJ @ This Dark Material

Great review, Evelina! I’ve only seen a small handful of Marilyn’s films, so what I know of her mostly comes from pop culture and generalizations. I didn’t know any of the things you mentioned but now I’m really curious about the rest of her life. This sounds like a book perfectly suited to some of the conversations going on in the entertainment industry and beyond right now! Thanks for drawing my attention to it, this definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy 🙂

3 years ago

She was so cool!
I think the idea of a smart woman still terrifies some people even nowadays. (Mainly dudes)

3 years ago

I don’t know much about Marilyn but have come across many of her quotes that really resonated me. I am really intrigued now and will be checking this book out, great review!

Rosie Amber
3 years ago

Really interesting, I knew little of this.

Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

Honestly, intelligent females scare males as well these days… they always assume the pretty ones are meant to be pretty figureheads when we’re not. HMPH. I never knew she was an avid bookworm though! I was aware that she was very feminist (despite the fact I never watched any movies with her in it), but I had no clue about being a bookworm.

Laura Thomas
3 years ago

I’ve always admired her. Intelligent and sexy. And real.

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

I only know about Marilyn from some online articles and pop culture references but I don’t think that I have actually seen any of her movies. But I always appreciated how advanced she was as compared to her time. This reminds me of some Indian actresses too.
And what a lovely review, Evelina. I want to read more about her now 🙂

Cait @ Paper Fury
3 years ago

So I basically know NOTHING about her except her name! So this was super interesting…and that’s awesome that she was a bookworm and smashed stereotypes and spoke up. Eeeep. I guess it’s kind of sad people don’t really know those things about her, and instead just know that she was a famous moviestar?! Anyway I liked reading this!!

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

I have read some books about Marilyn, and I agree, she’s fascinating. My husband would absolutely love this book, though, and I am going to get it for him. He’s always loved everything to do with her, and has read most of the biographies already out.
Thanks for sharing, Evelina!

Cahleen Hudson
Cahleen Hudson
3 years ago

Wow, I did not realize that there was this whole other side to her that I knew nothing about. Thanks for opening my eyes! This is why I love biographies.

Stephanie Jane
3 years ago

I didn’t know any of this so thank you for sharing! I’m not even sure I have seen a Marilyn film, but had made assumptions based on the sort of characters I thought she acted. Oops!

The Weekend Post #19: Charity Shop Books and Sci-Fi Magazine Subscriptions – Cheeky Lines
3 years ago

[…] ♣ 3 Things You Might Not Know About Marilyn Monroe on Avalinah’s Books. I am currently reading this book – I know, I know, I am late to the party again. […]


[…] And I know this is supposed to be a monthly update – but I posted some posts I was really proud of last week! So in case you missed them, please check them out. The one I am most proud of is 3 Things You Might Not Know About Marilyn Monroe. […]

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

Yeah my writing partner read all about Marilyn and just loves her. She’s so incredible, such a woman before her time. I can see why you admired her as a girl. ♥️

Ami @ luvtoread
3 years ago

This sounds like such a great read! I just finished the book Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates about Marilyn Monroe, and she was such a fascinating woman. I learned so much about her and about how she was truly ahead of her time. Great review!

Cee Arr
3 years ago

I don’t think anyone really knew the entire character of Marilyn Monroe – maybe not even MM herself.

Also, I love how many times you were like, ‘are you in the 50s?! No! She was!!!’ in this post! XD <3


[…] anything more than the characters she played. I think everyone should read The Girl! Full review here. Another book that truly touched me, was Have Dog, Will Travel – about how enabling seeing eye […]