Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review of Lessons From the Mountain by Mary McDonough

Lessons From The Mountain: What I Learned From Erin Walton
By Mary McDonough
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN 978-0-7582-6366-7

The memoir begins with the voice of a woman of strength and wisdom and maintains that tone throughout. After she gives credit where credit is due (parents and siblings) the author flashes back and tracks forward to tell us about the long hard journey she took to ultimately acquire that strength and wisdom. Included among the positive influences that helped her get through the difficulties of being a child star were members of her television Walton family as well as her own real family.

For some reason during childhood she suffered from an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and any slight pounded her esteem  deeper into the ground. She recounts the story of an obsessive compulsive second grade teacher at her Catholic school and the reader has to wonder what such a person was doing teaching seven year old children. Later she refers back to some inappropriate sexual touching that she endured as a child from neighbors and was too afraid to speak up. Throughout her childhood, adolescence and early adulthood she was afraid to speak up whether the complaint was relatively trivial (sitting in a hot car in winter clothes to shoot a “winter” scene on a hot day) or serious (an actual assault on a movie set during her post Walton career). But, when she finally realized she had to speak up not only to protect herself from serious health risks  but to warn other women who might be persuaded to take serious health risks, she came out with the fierceness and determination that long repressed feelings can engender.

The book includes photos of this beautiful girl who grew into a beautiful woman and one photo in particular is both striking and heartrending: a photo of a lean, fit and lovely teen age girl on one page and on the facing page the drawing she made of herself at that time. She called the drawing “hog body” and apparently thought of her body in that derogatory way.  There had to be some sad and heavy psychology at work to make her think of herself that way when she viewed that lovely girl in the mirror. The fact that she later got silicone breast implants is therefore not surprising. After the implants, she developed Lupus and, against the advice of Doctors who should have known better, decided to have the implants removed thereby finding out that they had ruptured and sent silicone leaking into her body as well as the fetus she was carrying. When she later took on Dow Corning she was doing it for herself, her daughter and all the women who might make different decisions regarding breast implants given accurate information. The malleable, shy child actor has developed into a film director and producer herself as well as an activist and a teacher who gives workshops to help young women develop a positive self image. She makes it clear throughout the book that she was always grateful for what she was given (the good fortune of being chosen to be part of the Waltons family and develop lifelong friendships with many fine people) and that she felt a responsibility to give back. She has given back a great deal and this book is a gift to women everywhere in all walks of life and all ages. There are a myriad of wise life lessons in this book. I learned some important lessons reading it. Thankyou Mary McDonough!


  1. Your review "gets" Mary's story in a nutshell. Thanks for your insight and encouragement to help continuing to spread this incredible woman's story.

  2. And thank you for your feedback and of course your help with the book. I plan to recommend this to bookclubs I meet with. And if you have other sites you'd like me to post my review, let me know, I'm happy to do that. We women need to get the word out, about our books, our messages, our missions!

  3. Great review! Can't wait to read it!

  4. I wish they would get a copy at my library, I'm dying to read it.

  5. You should able to request your library to either purchase it or borrow it for you via inter library loan. If you are reading this comment, scroll down on this blog and read some other reviews of novels that also address important women's issues: Ruth is the next one, If I Bring You Roses I posted a while back and keep going to learn about other fine authors of really good books.