Her heartfelt and frequently devastating autobiography, In Pieces, reveals a life almost derailed by her stepfather who sexually abused her when she was a child. Echoing Allen’s struggles with fame, she tells of a life under the public gaze from her late teens onwards as well as relationships with a series of controlling and cruel men, among them Burt Reynolds, who reduced her to “a familiar, shadowy version of myself, locked behind my eyes, unable to speak”.
This book is entirely based on Field’s ambiguous relationship with her mother and it is beautifully written, but at times the emotions are almost too complicated to follow. One feels one needs the psychiatrist’s chair.
Written by the actor over seven years, without the aid of a ghostwriter (a crutch often used by celebrity authors), this somber, intimate and at times wrenching self-portrait feels like an act of personal investigation — the private act of a woman, now 71, seeking to understand how she became herself, and striving to cement together the shards of her psyche that have been chipped and shattered over the course of her life... It’s that fighter in Field that we have so often rooted for onscreen, in films as varied as “Places in the Heart” and “Steel Magnolias,”... and it’s easy to imagine an alternate, crowd-pleaser version of this memoir loaded with moments where she stood her ground, fired off some snappy dialogue and stuck it to the man. In fact, those moments are in short supply. Field seems to be aiming higher than that. Throughout “In Pieces,” she assesses herself with a clear and critical eye, often revealing unappealing parts of herself... with minimal rationalization, sentiment or self-pity. It may not make you like her, but by the end, what we think about her also seems quite beside the point.