Few entertainers changed the world of television as greatly as Lucille Ball did, and A.K.A. Lucy: The Dynamic and Determined Life of Lucille Ball by Sarah Royal does an incredible job of documenting her entire life’s story and impact in a manner that’s engaging to read and enjoyable to follow. The book is out on October 10th courtesy of Running Press.
A.K.A. Lucy documents Ball’s childhood, including the early moments which impacted her and the people in her life who helped to shape her into who she was. One particularly interesting segment examines how the death of her father impacted young Lucille and caused her to forever associate birds as a negative symbol. The sections on her relationship with Desi Arnaz and the bond they shared long after their divorce also bring a real human element to the legendary entertainer and reveal the human emotion behind why she was able to connect with so many in I Love Lucy and more.
While Ball’s entire career is chronicled throughout the book, A.K.A. Lucy brings more than enough trivia and information for old and new fans of I Love Lucy alike. As a casual viewer who is aware of the more famous episodes and not much else, I continued to be astonished by all of the barriers Ball broke with her show. In fact, Chapter 8 delves into “all the firsts of television” that I Love Lucy was responsible for. Things we all take for granted today, such as multiethnic relationships on screen, recording in front of a live audience, reruns, and female studio heads all began with the work of one woman.
I really like how author Sarah Royal varies the chapters between longform prose and smart lists and segments to present the information in a variety of ways. Royal takes her time with the important biography work she does for Ball, but then she also remembers to have fun with the more lighthearted moments of Ball’s story or the show itself.
Running Press really knocked it out of the park with the presentation of A.K.A. Lucy. The book features a thick and study hardcover adorned with 50s-esque color and artwork. The inner pages are just the same, featuring lots of essential photography and all of the kinds of colors you’d expect from this period. One could glean a great deal of information about the life and times of Lucille Ball simply by flipping through the pages and enjoying the images in the book. It’s the kind of book that will look great on a bookshelf, and the kind of book that Lucille Ball fans will want to read and thumb through for years to come.
Between its engaging narrative, its intelligent yet playful handling of the subject matter, and its stellar images and delivery, A.K.A. Lucy serves as a fitting tribute to Lucille Ball and a worthy addition to any television fan’s bookshelf.