Zohra Segal’s book is a candid and fascinating tale.
Truthfully speaking," writes the veteran actress Zohra Segal towards the end of her memoir Close-Up, "I could have done much, much more." "I had some talent," she continues, "and was given the opportunity that many women of my generation were denied. What did I do with it? … I was too lazy to take on the responsibility of teaching or directing... but I did get a little name, a great deal of experience and unlimited enjoyment in my work."
These typically candid words are a pointer to what makes Close-Up such a likeable book even when it meanders or tends towards stasis. If Segal had been a different sort of personality — more affected, or less pragmatic — this could have been an ego project. As it is, the impatient reader will have to overcome a few barriers before sinking into it, for this is neither the story of a woman who became a towering figure in her field nor a heroic tale about someone who overcame immense odds to carve a small niche for herself. However, it’s something in between, and a reminder that we can learn much from the lives of those who brush against greatness without quite achieving it.
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