She Always Knew How: Mae West, a personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler
Copyright by 2009 Charlotte Chandler
HC Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-4165-7909-0
Charlotte Chandler's new book is a must for all you Mae West fans out there!  It is the latest in her series of “personal” biographies in which she uses as her base material, the audio tapes she made of interviews she conducted over the years with Hollywood's royalty.  Her style is not to question but rather to allow her subjects to tell their story in their own way and, most importantly, in their own words.
What is fascinating about this book is that it is based largely on the lengthy interview she conducted with Mae at her Ravenswood apartment in 1980, the year of Mae's death.

This is the second time Miss Chandler has utilised her source material, the first being in her 1984 interview anthology, “The Ultimate Seduction”. This was a very tightly written piece and without doubt one of the best ever accounts of an interview with Mae West.  The new book expands on the original piece thereby making the very most of the available material this time around.

We find Mae in good sorts and with a very clear mind.  She is in unusually reflective mood and in several passages, demonstrates an ability to see her life and career in perspective and in the context of the times in which she lived.  Mae made it her lifelong mission to edit and refine her own biography. It is no surprise therefore that she delivers to Miss Chandler a version of her life that is somewhat less than the whole truth. This is the beauty of the book and why it is referred to as a “personal” biography.

The main text is supported by the reminiscences of an array of supporting cast members, most notably Tim Malachosky, who was Mae's personal assistant during the last years of her life, and renowned film critic, Kevin Thomas, who both remember her fondly.

If you want an in-depth, carefully researched and detailed, biography of Mae West, then this book will not flick your switch.  But if you never got the invitation to "come us and see" Mae West in person, this book is the next best thing.  It provides a rare insight into the mind of the elderly Mae West and what was occupying her thoughts at the time, touchingly mainly how much she still missed her long dead mother. I loved the book. And given the existence of the source material, an audio version would be the icing on the cake!