Liza Minnelli


Liza Minnelli is late, as a living legend should be.

40 minutes after the arranged time of our rendezvous, I am waiting in Barneys on Madison Avenue, on the ground floor, in the fashion-free oasis where New York’s more affluent ladies stop shopping to have a drink or a (very) light lunch – in a café called, appropriately, Mad.61.

I pretend to be interested in the menu, anxiously looking up every time someone walks in, increasingly doubting I’ll be eating.

I ask the waiter what the risotto is and like a character in ‘Airplane !’ without missing a beat he explains: “it’s lots of little bits of rice, together in a bowl.” 

I sit at the bar studying the walls of framed photos, pictures of New York’s fashion glitterati from the old days: Halston and Bianca, Naomi and Linda, Warhol and Mapplethorpe – most of them friends of Minnelli’s, many of them dead. Liza herself is not up there. Not up there and not down here either… 

I’m becoming resigned to a cancellation when I hear a woman’s voice say my name and tell the concierge she is meeting me.

At first I’m surprised to see how ordinary she looks. Smartly dressed, with neat, bobbed black hair, big brown eyes, typical black turtleneck and gold jewellery her arrival has caused no commotion or even interest. I can’t help but feel a pang of disappointment that Liza Minnelli has become someone who can blend in so easily; that she doesn’t seem more special or exciting. No wonder. It is not her. It’s her assistant, Lisa (with an ‘s’) – sent ahead to keep me company. 

When Liza herself finally arrives, an hour or more later, it is quite an entrance. 

I first see her out of the corner of my eye, clattering through the entrance of the store on high black heels, wearing a tight black dress, a rather tatty-looking black fur and elbow-length red suede gloves. All that’s missing is a bowler hat and maybe a feather boa, although the fur coat more than makes up for it. (She calls it her ‘Gorillas In The Mist’ coat.)

She reaches the top of the staircase leading down into the café and stands there like a superstar at an awards ceremony, before throwing her arms open and with a dazzling smile, shouting the fanfare: “Da-Nahhh !”

Then with an alarming, chaotic, flurry, she charges down the steps, across the restaurant, and rather throws her arms around me. 

She scurries round the table and, talking ten to the dozen, crashes down into her seat. She orders a Coke, asks for an ashtray, looks for a cigarette, apologises for being late, drops her handbag, asks about my love life and calls the waiter “dahling”, cackling with laughter and theatrically breaking into several accents – from Southern vamp to New York camp, even mocking the Queen of England (“how charming”). 

The first (frantic) minute of the interview over, any idea of asking the questions I’ve prepared in order is immediately dispensed with. 

Then she’s off again, zig-zagging towards the Ladies (“now where did he say it was ?”), returning 10 minutes later even more flustered and wayward than before. 

This time, there is no mistaking who she is. 


IMMEDIATELY after our meeting, Liza Minnelli is due to be interviewed on Fox’s prime-time gossip fest ‘Entertainment Tonight’. The programme represents good exposure and good publicity for Liza’s album ‘Gently’ but there is a feeling among the people working close to Lisa that appearing on the show represents something of a risk. 

Although she recently celebrated her 50th birthday with typical joie de vivre, most of Minnelli’s recent publicity has been of the wrong kind (‘LIZA FINDS THAT LIFE’S NO CABARET’), with rumours lead by the ‘National Enquirer’ that she is suffering from a return of the problems that in 1984 saw Elizabeth Taylor check her into the Betty Ford Clinic. 

The stories have been forcibly denied, but “concern about Minnelli’s well-being” was fuelled by a recent appearance on ‘Ruby Wax Meets…’ in which Liza and her friend Katy Manning both appeared to be rather the worse for wear. 

‘Entertainment Tonight’ is the sort of tabloid TV show whose celebrity interviews tend to be ‘Hello’-style puff pieces but is also not averse to a bitchy twist of the knife when it senses a juicy story. Although her profile has dimmed enough for her to need to do the show, Minnelli is a genuine star: American royalty. Her problems will always be big news. 

Meeting her, it’s easy to see why Minnelli inspires feelings of protection.

She has certainly always had a wonderfully quixotic, excitable, personality and “erratic behaviour” can cover a lot of the eccentricities normal to many stars.

Minnelli has spent most of her life coping with life in the public eye, driving herself through years of constant touring and performing, often by relying on uppers, downers, tranquillisers, and sleeping pills. Besides the genetic legacy of her mother’s addictions to drink and drugs (specifically valium, which Minnelli was first prescribed for her mother’s funeral), the effect of all these problems on her own personality could simply be cumulative. 

Today, for whatever reason, she seems worn down; reckless, blurred. Objects fall or collide. Twice she misses her footing and nearly falls. Her watch has stopped and after a brief struggle, she welcomes her assistant’s offer to wind and re-tie it for her, giggling like a baby: “yes please !”

Her concentration wanders. Connections jump – a question about a song on her new album (“the songs mean so much to me, and the stillness. And the, er, focus”) ends up with an answer about what her mother Judy Garland said about legend and whether her mother’s death was suicide (“I waved that death certificate around for months !!”). 

Her two assistants chaperone her around with enormous care. One (rather simplistic) conclusion is that, given the nature of her childhood, she is playing up and just likes being mothered. 

She certainly seems frail though, damaged. But whether this is by anything other than the gradual effect of such an emotionally demanding, draining, life is difficult to say. 

She had a hip replacement operation at the end of 1994 and hobbles slightly up the stairs – a legacy, she says, of the late night rehearsals for her current show. The day we meet, she has a small cross of plasters over the pulse of one wrist, reminding me of the time her mother was recording a TV show the day after a heavily-publicised statement by her third husband that she had tried to commit suicide on “at least 20 occasions.”

“Is there a nurse in the building ?” Garland asked her producers, appearing on screen on crutches and covered in bloody bandages, joking that reports of her demise had been greatly exaggerated. 

When I mention this, Liza laughs keenly without fully knowing which story I’m talking about. 

“Is that the one where me and my sister had to throw the aspirin all over the floor ?” she asks with unbearable poignancy.

Although we have met only once before she greets me with rather cavalier warmth, making me her new best friend for the day, which is very touching but not entirely reassuring. 

When I offer encouragement or compliments, she clutches to the approval and clings to it like a life-raft (“God ! Thank you ! Thank you !”), even though I’m hardly in a position to comment on her performance of Gershwin or Cole Porter songs she’s been singing all her life. 

Time and time again, I watch her fall into the trap of the persecuted, where explaining things can only make them worse. 

“I guess it’s boring to read that somebody’s very nice and bringing out a nice record,” she laments at one point with an edge of desperation, continuing: “If someone says ‘here, let me help you down the stairs’ and they pick you up and piggy back you down the stairs, you might have had three Coca-Colas but the next day you read you were drunk in a night-club !” (A story that only someone who sees getting a piggy-back out of a nightclub as standard/innocent behaviour – someone like Liza Minnelli – would tell.)

Equally though there are times when she will suddenly pick up, as bright as a button, and her sheer heart and spirit makes you ashamed to doubt her. 

She is still the most animated person you could ever hope to meet, everyone’s fabulous eccentric auntie. Telling a joke, she is uncontainable – acting it out with irresistible swagger, the sing-song/Southern Belle quality back in her voice. Mention a song and her heart visibly lifts. Any time she’s singing a few bars, drifting off into a few ‘dah-dah-dah’s, she seems happiest, and happy.

But even these moments only emphasise the feeling that you are in the presence of someone almost permanently trying to keep other emotions and problems at bay. 


IT seems surprisingly close-to-home that the cover of ‘Gently’ shows a close-up of Minnelli distractedly biting on her fingers, staring out at the audience. Almost as if the CD was designed to symbolise nearly 40 years trapped in the public eye, trapped inside show business. 

When Liza May Minnelli was born in Los Angeles on March 12th 1946, her parents Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli (the director of ‘Gigi’ and ‘An American In Paris’ among others) were already squabbling, drifting apart. (They tried reconciliation for the benefit of their daughter but divorced when Liza was five.)

Children of famous people are renowned for having difficult lives of course, but very few have to live with two famous parents. Minnelli’s childhood was seemingly almost entirely without stability. In this sense, Liza Minnelli’s life probably became more normal as she grew older and more famous. 

She grew up on film-sets, in TV studios, on tour, or watching rehearsals. At home, her parents and their friends were always up singing and dancing, putting on a show. 

Judy Garland said of her own life: “I was born in a trunk, raised in a vaudeville family. We had lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch, and a show for dinner. From the age of 5, my appetite for entertainment was keener than my taste for food.” 

Her daughter’s life can’t have been very different. 

Once when I asked her to quantify how unreal her life had been she put it at “30% – more than enough.”

Show business has always been real life for her. As a baby she appeared in her father’s classic ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’ and as a child regularly featured in her mother’s TV shows and publicity shots.

In one Garland show, her mother sang the song ‘Liza’ surrounded by huge blow-ups of her daughter from infancy to 17, as if the fact her whole childhood had been public property was something to celebrate.

“My life has been lived in front of the press,” Minnelli once said. “I was born and someone took a picture and it’s been that way ever since.”

People always talk about the ‘burden’ of being Judy Garland’s daughter and having to live up to that, but the damage and details of what that involved go far beyond such a flip cliché. 

The glitz and glamour of being the child of a superstar like Garland may present one set of problems, but at least those problems are normally offset by the financial advantages such fame accords. 

But Garland’s financial difficulties with the IRS, legal wrangles over tour cancellations or filming delays and her mothers hopeless over-extravagance meant the family was regularly hounded for money. Amazingly, Garland was often penniless and eventually homeless. (She died in 1969, $ 4 million in debt.)

Liza once joked that she learned to check out of hotels without paying before she could read or write. When Liza married Peter Allen in 1967 (the first of three husbands, compared to her mother’s five), Garland couldn’t afford a present. 

Her friend Bing Crosby probably summed Judy Garland up best: “there wasn’t a thing that gal couldn’t do. Except look after herself.”

Minnelli’s problems are always attributed to inheriting Garland’s addiction to pills and alcohol but the psychological damage of having to deal with her mother was arguably worse. 

When she was as young as nine, Minnelli would sit listening to her mother talk of her loneliness, her professional crises, and romantic rejection.

Liza once dismissed the ‘tragic’ effects of being Judy Garland’s daughter, explaining: “I had tremendously interesting childhood years. Except that they had nothing to do with being a child.” 

Then after her parents’ separation, it was left to Liza to be a mother to her mother. 

By the age of 12, Liza was her mother’s nurse and dresser, even hiring and firing staff, interviewing applicants to assess whether they could deal with her mother’s erratic behaviour and addictions, even asking the police to check their references. 

When she was 14, she started driving her brother and sister to school because the chauffeur was always drunk and her mother liked him too much to fire him. 

David Shipman’s book ‘Judy Garland’ logs one suicide attempt in 1947 (when she ended up in a sanatorium having dragged a broken tumbler across her wrists) while Liza was in her nursery. Chapters later, on her 17th birthday, they are still occurring.

As children, Minnelli and her sister would refill their mother’s sleeping pills with sugar – to stop her overdosing (either accidentally or deliberately). Liza took the precaution of acquiring a stomach pump. 

Shipman describes how on one occasion when Liza was watching TV with a school friend, her mother came in and announced she was going to kill herself and ran up into the bathroom. 

Liza then caught Garland pouring the aspirins down the toilet. 

It was probably too much to hope that, after such a trying childhood, Minnelli could forge a normal or even relatively painless life. After several miscarriages and three broken marriages she has now given up hope of having children herself.

Had she spent her life wondering/ despairing: “why me ?” 

“Not really,” she says, with a shaky-looking smile, adding demurely: “most of the time I’m terribly grateful. That’s what my show’s about. It’s like that Stephen Sondheim song where, after all his problems, he ends up just saying: ‘I want MORE !”

When I ask her if she’s kept a diary all these years she looks at me as if I had just asked her if she keeps orang-utans.

“God, are you crazed ?! Keep a diary !? And, what, then some waiter steals it… No ! In my show I always look at the audience and say: ‘Don’t worry. We’re exactly the same. The facts are different but the feelings are the same.’ You either do it that way or the Marlene Dietrich way. You know, ‘dahling, you know NOTHING. Wait til I tell you MY experiences.’ Hah ! But I’m not like that. I’m one of the people. I’m a worker.”

It’s a tribute to Minnelli’s character and determination that such talk does not seem disingenuous – mere wishful thinking – despite a childhood surrounded by an extraordinary array of famous talents. 

Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli were on friendly terms with stars over three decades so Liza grew up seeing the likes of Noel Coward, Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Bogart, and Astaire around the house. She remembers as a girl of 10, at her mother’s parties, how Marilyn Monroe would come up to her room and talk to her (‘the pretty lady’ I used to call her”). Songwriters like Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Marvin Hamlisch, and Lieber & Stoller were all personal friends. 

“Yeah but I didn’t know they were all great people at the time,” Minnelli protests, with a grin. “They were just boring friends of your parents ! People say I must have seen a lot of life. I always want to say ‘and you too ! What happened in school ? Did you move ? Were you popular ? Did you hang with a gang or only have one girlfriend ? Most of the time I’ve found what we’ve been through was pretty similar.” 

By most people’s criteria though, nothing in her career was mundane. She made her TV debut when she was 13 (with Gene Kelly) and her live debut aged 11 (on stage with Judy Garland). 

Minnelli’s appearances during her mother’s shows quickly became commonplace as Garland would bring her on to give herself more time between songs. 

Her courage could certainly never be disputed. Shipman describes how Garland introduced her during her New York’s Eve shows in Las Vegas a year later “as if it was part of the act, leaving the child to sing a handful of songs which she knew only from hearing her mother sing them.”

“I knew they didn’t want to see me,” Minnelli shrugs now. “It used to annoy me when she would call me out there, only because you could feel the audience going (forced smile): ‘very nice. Now when is she going to get off ?’ But I always felt she brought me out there as proof that she was a normal woman and a mother. That was lovely. I like that the best !” she beams with a giggle.  


FROM time to time, Minnelli loses me.

I suddenly find her fractured line of thought has jumped ahead, especially when she talks about ‘legend’ (hers, her mother’s, the public’s concept of what a legend should be) in the third person. 

“My mother had a marvellous point of view on it,” she says with a hazy drawl. “ ‘That’s over there, and that’s what they call A Legend and that’s gonna build on its own. It was invented by the public. You could go and plant corn seed in Iowa and it will keep going.” 

It sounds like a speech her mother must have made to her when Minnelli was still a child. She continues carefully, as if she’s concentrating to get it right: “‘So watch it, understand it, laugh at it, think about it, who’s building it and lead your own life with dignity and integrity, and that’s your job.’”

“That’s the family baggage I picked up that I have to carry,” she says suddenly much later. “I put it down. ME ! The person YOU know. But she (the legend ?) has to carry it. And all those sequins and when you try and do something when you don’t wear any, that’s the proof. THAT’S why I said it was scary and I was right.”

As if representing a continuation of her mother’s troubled legend was not enough, Minnelli sealed her own legend with her Oscar-winning performance in Bob Fosse’s film ‘Cabaret’, although when I ask her how the famous outfit came about, she asks, incredibly, “which one ?”

“‘Cabaret’ is a cool film. It ruined musicals. Hah ! My father made them with ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’ by saying music is in everyone’s life. It shouldn’t be hard to get it up there on the screen. And then Fosse, in making it almost like a documentary, took it off and we’ve never been able to get it back.”

Her own film career has never been the same either, despite hit films like ‘Arthur’ and ‘New York, New York’. 

The stage has been the love of her life. She was the youngest actress ever to win a Tony award for a musical role (for her Broadway debut in ‘Flora’) and has regularly broken box-office records for shows at Vegas, Radio City and Carnegie Hall. 

Her last commercial album ‘Results’ with the Pet Shop Boys, proved her ability to crossover and although ‘Gently’ features a duet with Donna Summer (‘Does He Love You ?’) most of the album consists of jazzy, romantic, cabaret standards like ‘It Had To Be You’, ‘Chances Are’, and Irving Berlin’s ‘I Got Lost In His Arms.’

“My Dad taught me most of these songs in the car,” she explains. “To keep me quiet ! ”

She can’t help but point out with a note of amazement, that one song on the album (‘Embraceable You’) was not only her father’s favourite song but taught to her when she was seven – by Ella Fitzgerald. 

Her sleeve-notes for the album remark that she had 14 unrequited love affairs before she was 11, qualifying her as something of an expert on the album’s theme of the hopelessness of love. 

“Oh !” she cries, dramatically tossing her head back and throwing her arms wide open. “I was in love when I was four… I was the most romantic child. I guess it came from watching my father’s films. It was all in my head, you know.”

The songs are arranged to trace an arc from being in love to being alone and ends with her favourite song ‘In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.’

After Peter Allen, she married Jack Haley whose father (rather spookily) played the Tin Man in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to her mother’s Dorothy. In 1991, after 12 years together, she divorced her third husband, the sculptor Mark Gero, and for the past year and a half has been defiantly single. 

“I’ve always been married. Or going out with someone. I always felt like I didn’t exist unless I was defined through a man’s eyes. It’s called co-dependency. I’m so relieved I’m not in any kind of relationship now. I cannot tell you. I could just wake up each morning and APPLAUD !!”


AS soon as we arrive (late) for her interview with ‘Entertainment Tonight’, Minnelli heads for her dressing room, emerging another hour later in a cloud of Obsession, looking a million dollars, all excited smiles and superstar graces, embracing me on the way to the stage with a clumsy hug.

Throughout the wait, the show’s presenter has remained in her seat, constantly having her make-up re-touched until her foundation has the texture of stone cladding. Her dazzling television smile remains fixed. 

Fortunately she seems to identify with her subject, comparing Liza’s tragic childhood with her sorrow that her own father died without seeing his daughter present ‘Entertainment Tonight.’

She gleefully remarks that making such a smoochy album will make Minnelli “responsible for a lot of pregnancies”, blithely disregarding the fact Minnelli has often talked of her sorrow at not having had children of her own. 

Minnelli is soon on dazzling form though, and has onlookers in stitches when she again maintains she was always in love as a child, and “came out of the womb, eyeing up the doctor, sighing “Hi !”

She laughs off the tabloid stories, earnestly explaining that just as magazines now have photo-enhancement techniques, they also have others designed to create the opposite effect, and that’s what they have been doing to her. 

“Since OJ’s trial,” she asserts, “bad publicity is good publicity. It’s a case of ‘there but for you go I’ Is that what I mean ?” she worries, looking over in my direction for assistance. “The way the public look at celebrities, if you’re in trouble, it makes them feel lucky.”

Gradually though things begin to go awry. All the points she had prepared and the stories she intended to tell come out but not necessarily in any order, and not always in response to the right question. There are times when Minnelli embarks on a story without always seeming sure where it’s going, continuing with a feeling it will be wonderful anyway, then pausing fatally halfway to look around and see where she is, before (just about) pulling it together in time. 

Rather mistakenly, she gives her bewildered host a long explanation of the concept Chinese Whispers (“Chinese Whispers are what my whole life is about”) – an analogy involving characters in an imaginary town and a complicated scenario involving the local gossipmonger. 

“Mildred runs the coffee shop… You go to the airport cos your sister’s ill…Your flight landed at midnight. And the man she saw you with was the local taxi-driver.”

Looking down at the TV monitor nearby, I can see in Minnelli in close-up. Staring away at the ground, gnawing her fingernails as she loses the thread. As if she has suddenly become aware that, as a legend, what she is saying is supposed to have gravitas bur she has been rambling. She starts over-reaching, trying to be over-entertaining, but lacking the confidence anymore to pull it off. She is visibly tiring. 

She remembers a story she had mentioned to me earlier – about Bono telling her “you know we all want to do what you do. Stand in the spotlight and sing.” But instead of slipping it seamlessly into the conversation as TV chat shows require, she grabs on to it like a life-jacket, and rushes into it so roughly the point of the story is not just wasted but lost.

Alarm bells ring as she starts her next sentence with the fateful words “when your self-esteem has gone…” The words echo round the studio in the silence.

I can see her on the monitor, looking around edgily like a hunted animal, cornered in the lights. 

A dozen or so of Liza’s assistants and press officers are watching on in hushed trepidation, hoping she can turn it round, lay the rumours to rest and produce a triumph. 

With almost heroic resolve, she tries again saying: “Look I’ve formed a production company, built two publishing companies, had a play written, done a deal to write a musical, a cartoon… I’ve got a solid deal for a film, a solid deal for a musical production on Broadway to do 200 shows a year…And then you read you’re a recluse ! You can’t do all of that be a mess. It doesn’t work.”

TV recordings are so silent, you can sense the people making them holding their breathe, willing her to make it through. Everyone wants it to be alright; for her to be fabulous. 

But there is, in the tense hush of silence, a sense of suspense – in case she doesn’t make it. There is the feeling that Liza Minnelli herself is now the Cabaret. The collapse of a great star is something we all find fascinating. 

Maybe that is why everyone there – from ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and Liza Minnelli’s side – is not just watching it happen but letting it happen. They are all slightly excited by the possibility of being there when she crashes and see the wreckage. 

Looking around, I realise that I am one of them. 


THE DAY is ending. We swish down 5th Avenue in her chauffeur-driven car, peering out of tinted windows at the streets. Even the air-conditioning is silent. The outside world is locked out. Liza Minelli has never looked happier, face pressed to the window, singing to herself, “when you’re a gent, you’re a gent all the way/from your first cigarette/to your last dying day…. 

When you’re a pig/you’re a pig all the way…”

“These shoes are real comfortable,” she laughs. “My feet on the other hand hardly ever are. Hah ! ”

She yawns contentedly, stretches her foot out by the hand-brake, and sinks down low into the leather seat. 

The next time I look over at her, she is dozing. The shoe of her outstretched leg has dropped to the floor. One arm has flopped softly over her head, revealing again the cross of plasters on her wrist. She is still holding her Coca-Cola, the straw rested against her chin. She looks like a child, exhausted, on her way home from a day out. 

I am thinking about the interview, about how – because people have problems – we underestimate their endurance; thinking that in her own way, maybe she is coping. 

She had spoken about her mother so often, and so freely, at one point I found myself asking her what the last words she ever said to her were. 

She gave a loud groan, and for a moment just lay her head on the table, cradled in her arm – for so long in fact I thought I’d driven her to tears. 

“Oh dear !” she gasped, sounding desperate. Then, just as I was about to apologise, raised her head again, smiling brightly. 

“ ‘Goodnight I love you’. She said, ‘I’ll call you in the morning’ and she did and we hung out together in New York for a while, and then she went home, to London. And a week later she was gone, and I never thought that would happen. I always thought my father would go first cos he was so much older. And the day she died, Kay Thompson (Liza’s godmother and her mother’s best friend) came back from Europe and she hadn’t heard, and I said ‘Momma died’, and she said ‘everything she ever wanted to do in her life, she did and she had a great, great life…. Now what are you wearing ?’ I told her and she said, ‘I’ll be right over’ and she never left my side after that. We sang all the time. She would tell me wonderful, funny stories – that you forget during a tragedy.”

She is always (not surprisingly) denying she has continued her mother’s legacy, tried to claim her life as her own, but it’s hard not to see her life as too tragic; full of too much loss. 

When Garland was asked what she had learnt for the future, she said “Everything passes. Friends go, and husbands and lovers and you can’t stop it. You just have to rely on yourself.”

Along with her mother’s addictions, talent and temperament, 

what people never say about Liza Minelli is that she also inherited not only her mother’s energy but her strength.

She also continued her mother’s role in the gay community (‘friends of Dorothy’ being an early idiom used by gays), inheriting many of her parents’ friendships. Her first husband died of AIDS and she has lost countless friends over the years. Besides her three divorces, the failure of her big romances (Baryshnikov, Sellers, Aznavour, Scorsese) and the heart-break she has suffered from three miscarriages, have been well-documented.  

I told her I don’t know how she could cope with so much loss and she smiled.

“You get ready for it. It’s tough losing people. It whacks you on the side of the head when you least expect it to. I wasn’t prepared for Mama’s death. But I knew my father was dying. I made sure I was there, even though he was in a coma. I THANKED him, I told him how much I loved him, said good-bye and that’s closure and you need that. Otherwise, you keep trying to say it’s alright and it’s not alright. It hurts. It all goes back to those abandonment issues we feel as kids. When your parents aren’t there…” 

She recited a note that her friend Martha Graham once sent her, concentrating to get it right. 

“I’d lost a child,” she said quietly, “and all it said was: ‘in my garden, at my studio, is a tree. It has grown crookedly and fought its way through a cast-iron fence…to be in the sun. Sometimes we have to be scarred to find the light. Martha.”

I wondered if she agreed dealing with so much loss had made her stronger.

“No,” she said wanly. “It only makes people think you are.”