Picks and Pans Review: The Secret Life of Cyndy Garvey

updated 08/07/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Cynthia Garvey and Andy Meisler

Sure to be made into a TV movie, this book belongs to a genre of pop biography that could be categorized thusly: "To the outside world, they were the perfect couple with good looks, plenty of money and a bright future and everything going for them. But behind the glossy facade..."

From the outside, Los Angeles Dodger all-star Steve Garvey and his pretty wife, Cyndy, seemed the Ken and Barbie of the major leagues, with two cute children and a limitless future. But as Cyndy reveals, in reality her life with Steve was more stomach-churning than a day of ballpark food.

An Air Force brat, Cynthia Truhan was born in Detroit. Her mother was a passive faded beauty, her father a brute who regularly abused his three children for minute or imagined infractions: "I can remember him holding me by the neck and hitting me, hard: that was when I made serious mistakes like shouting to my brother in the house or coming home from school with my shirt outside my skirt."

Cynthia's 3.9 average was good enough to get her into Vassar, but Michigan State's tuition was lower, so she headed for East Lansing, where she planned a career in medicine and met her future husband. They dated on Saturdays (Cynthia later found out Steve dated others on Fridays), she wrote papers for him, registered him for classes and married him.

Steve doesn't come off well in his ex-wife's book. He is portrayed as distant, self-absorbed and uncaring (when their younger daughter, Whitney, broke her arm, Steve quickly left the hospital emergency room to take batting practice). But Cynthia is determined to be Cyndy through it all. Cyndy is the name she gives the public side of her personality—the accommodating girl who cheered at Dodger games and who charmingly played second banana to Regis Philbin on morning talk shows in New York and Los Angeles. When her marriage fell apart, so did Cynthia. She had to face her past and banish Cyndy. Her book is not uninteresting or unaffecting; it does, however, get to be a bit much—a kind of whine. And Cynthia, who seems smart and anxious to do good (it's her book, after all), fails to explain why she stayed with Steve for 10 minutes, let alone 10 years, or why she stayed with him after he encouraged her to take up with composer Marvin Hamlisch. (Cyndy and Hamlisch developed what she calls an "intense relationship.") If nothing else, the book is a cautionary tale for girls who are considering a guy in (baseball) uniform. (Doubleday, $18.95)

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