Maggie Trudeau's Confessions Are Juicy Gossip and Rewarding Beyond Reason
04/09/1979 at 01:00 AM EST
With all her other transgressions, does the lady kiss and tell? That's what Margaret Trudeau's public is counting on this week as a six-part excerpt from her autobiography, Beyond Reason, appears in some 40 U.S. and Canadian newspapers. The New York Times, whose syndicate peddled the series, is not publishing the memoirs in its own paper—perhaps a clue to the contents. (Despite those neatly timed rumors of a one-night fling with Ted Kennedy, there's nothing politically explosive in the book—in fact, Kennedy isn't mentioned at all.)
"It's the story of what a woman goes through when she becomes public property—seen through the eyes of a flower child," proclaims Trudeau's lawyer, Steven Martindale. The author herself is not talking—all the better to whet appetites. Big bucks from the serialization and a $250,000 paperback sale will be rolling in, and her people are now negotiating film rights. As a friend sees it, "The book fills a need—to make money, give her a new life and justify herself." It's surprisingly well written, having been ghosted by London Times feature writer Caroline Moorehead, 34, whose father, Alan, is the author of The Blue Nile and other best-sellers. Margaret tells of her life from childhood, including her taste in male company ("Castro is the sexiest man I've ever met") and smoking materials (a Mountie once offered her incense to mask the smell of marijuana coming from her room in the prime minister's mansion). Husband Pierre emerges a good guy, though as a staunch Catholic he apparently insisted she get off the Pill.
Beyond Reason (Paddington Press, $10.95) will appear in 10 languages, even Serbo-Croatian, and should give Trudeau a much-needed boost. Her French film L'Ange Gardien opened in Montreal to yawns and the producers are unlikely to spend money on dubbing an English version. Her other movie, Kings and Desperate Men, may never open.
While Maggie still makes the international disco scene (running with the pharmaceutical crowd), she spends more time than most realize mothering her three sons. She visits Ottawa regularly, bunking at the official residence.
She began the book a year ago, talking her story to Moorehead as much as eight hours a day. They usually met in the splendor of London's Savoy Hotel, where Margaret kept a suite. Trudeau had amazingly vivid memories, even down to the numbers of place settings at state dinners. She was often witty and emotional in describing how she coped. When Moorehead returned with a draft, Trudeau would embellish it in longhand. "She's very open," says old beau Bruce Nevins. "In terms of exposure, Margaret's like Lady Godiva, ahead of her time."
How is Pierre reacting? At a Manhattan party recently, he seemed to have his mind on other things. When a woman reporter mentioned covering him at a Canadian election, he responded with a wolfish grin: "I'd like to cover you sometime."
Political observers are of two minds about the book's effect on Canada's May 22 election. Beyond Reason could produce a ground swell of sympathy for the abandoned husband—or do him in. One voter, paraphrasing a 19th century bit of doggerel, sent the Toronto Globe this pithy rhyme:
Oh Maggie dear we thee implore
To go away and write no more
Or if that effort be too great
To go away at any rate.