Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Passion for Design by Barbra Streisand

I have been a Barbra Streisand fan for many, many years. Her amazing talent as a singer,actor, director... not to mention the inspiring story of her life and all that she conquered along the way and doing it "her way" makes her an easy person to admire, in many respects.

So, when I received this book (her first) as a gift recently, I was pleased. And what a  BIG book it is, almost 300 pages, with lavish color photography (most were taken by Barbra Streisand) throughout.

Barbra explores and details her lifelong love of design while taking the reader on an extensive tour of her home in California and all the decorating and renovating that went into making it her dream home. And far, far away from her humble beginnings in New York as a child.

It is a beautiful book to browse through and the love for her home and the incredible amount of work that went into decorating each room, is evident. But for me, what came to mind again and again, looking through the book and studying the rooms was how austere, even cold so many of them seemed to be. Almost a museum-like atmosphere.

No, I didn't expect socks on the floor, ashtrays and TV tables but somehow I pictured a warmer, more relaxed setting than what the reality is for Barbra Streisand.

It's also staggering to consider what must have been spent on getting things "just right" as the attention to detail in every room, every garden etc... is hard to even comprehend. The years that went into this project. It may be a design accomplishment on the grandest of scales, but is it a home?

Here's what one disgruntled reader had to say about this book on Amazon:

Alan W. Petrucelli (THE ENTERTAINMENT REPORT (ALAN W. PETRUCELLI)) - See all my reviews

She was, by far, the greatest star. And everyone knew it. Now Barbra Streisand has added "author" to her resume. "My Passion for Design" is being billed by Viking flaks as a book that "focuses on the architecture and construction of her newest home, the dream refuge she has longed for since the days when she shared a small Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother and grandparents." Actually, it's a 288-page exercise in excess, of self-indulgent pleasure, a glossy and slick photographic smear against the unemployed, the working class, the ordinary Joe. She has more money than you and I ever will have, and she makes she knows it. Most of the photos were taken by Babs . . . of a zillion-dollar home that looks uncomfortable and actually resides only in the pages of AD. She offers a tour of her basement which is a mini strip mall, complete with stores that have only one customer. She writes about polluters and those who destroy the environment, yet has no problem telling us she cuts down dozens of trees to make room for a pool. If I didn't see her name and photo on the dust jacket, I would have bet her Tiffany lamps that this book was a cruel hoax, a pitiful year-end practical joke. Streisand promises "a portion of the proceeds" from the sale of the book will be donated to the Barbara Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center." A portion? At $60 ($500 for the "deluxe edition," signed and numbered with a DVD tour directed and narrated by guess who!), she should give all profits to needy causes. I love her talent, but I have lost my respect for the woman.
Amen, Alan! Enough said!

OK, I wouldn't put what I thought about this book and what some of it represents that harshly but he has got some points that ring true.

Oh Babs, maybe you should have left the photographs in an album instead of flaunting them to the world! LOL

I'm still reading through the text of the book, a little at a time but I probably won't finish reading it all. It's certainly a detailed account of Barbra's work on this property, the gardens, the rooms, the furnishings,the history. Also, a look back at her life and her journey to define her own sense of style that is lavishly displayed throughout her home. But looking at it from the standpoint of my own vision of Barbra, it was a disappointment. If you've had a look at this book yourself, I'd love to know your opinion.

Overall rating for this book: Fair. 2 out of 5.


  1. I am not a fan, so your review challenged me and got me thinking I should give it a try.

  2. If it was an autobiography, I might be interested but I'm not keen on reading this one. Thanks for the review.

  3. So true. LOL...Barbie seems to be in her own little world, based on this book.

  4. Ger, I might not choose to get the book based on your review and the review by "Alan", but I think like you, that wouldn't change my admiration for her music, voice, and all her accomplishments. She is one of my most favourite singers, I have one of her cd packages, "best of her work", I think with 2 cd's in it, which at one point I listened to every day, and it inspired me to start over again after a major loss in my life.

    One of my favourite movies was Beaches, have you seen it?

    Thanks for your reviews, I have a request, I enjoy eating flavoured yogourt, and now buy "probiotic", which is yummy, and creamy. What is your opinion of 1. purchased yogourt vs. homemade, and 2. food with probiotics added. (Are they truly better?)

  5. Hi Sandy, I love Barbra Streisand's voice and some of her movies, very much. I was not impressed by this book though. It's quite a "feast for the eyes" if you are into decorating, gardens etc...

    Hi Hilary, It is biographical in some ways but mainly a design book. There are a lot of biographies out there about her but nothing she's written so far. I hope she does write an autobiography in the future. Her story, her way.

    Hi Joe, LOL!!!

    Hi Brenda, Yes, I've seen Beaches, not one of my favs, Funny Girl would probably top that list. As far as the yogurt is concerned, I'm not an expert on the topic by any means, we don't eat much of it. I did make homemade yogurt many years ago and I think that's a very good investment (a yogurt maker, electric) to insure that only simple, whole ingredients are added. It tasted so yummy too. I have the recipe for a wonderful, smooth and creamy yogurt in my cookbook if you decide to give it a try.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments, G


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