Book Review: Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour

Marti Rulli, with Dennis Davern

390 pages

I knew next to nothing about Natalie Wood just a few weeks ago.  Just the fact that she was an actress and she drowned.  That’s it.  And then I saw that the case dealing with her death was being reopened by law enforcement and I had to know more.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour is the story of that night as told to the author by her longtime friend, Dennis Davern, who was also the captain of Natalie’s boat, Splendour.  Davern was extremely close with Natalie and her husband Robert Wagner and he was present the night Natalie died, along with Christopher Walken.  For years Davern kept his silence, out of allegiance to Wagner, but once Wagner cast him off, his guilt, along with his anger, encouraged him to come clean about what really happened that night Natalie died.

I will be honest; although I knew little about this case before picking up this book, I was already pretty convinced of Wagner’s guilt.  There’s just too many inconsistencies and it doesn’t make sense that someone would just fall off a large yacht and drown.  My viewpoint was only confounded as I read this book.  It just doesn’t make sense, and unfortunately

Wood and Wagner aboard Splendour

Wagner’s celebrity status at the time was enough for the investigators to brush everything under the rug and refuse to look into the matter at all.

I loved that this book was written with the help of an insider.  I believe Davern’s account wholeheartedly, because it makes sense and because it is corroborated by others.  However, I did have some issues with the book.  There were times when it was unbelievably slow.  For one, I have absolutely no interest in the author’s history or Davern’s history.  I’m sorry, but I just want to hear about Natalie and Wagner and that night and what really happened.  There’s absolutely no reason to add anyone else’s biographical account.  I also thought that parts of the book were redundant and that Rulli was attempting to drag it out longer than was necessary.  She would continuously replay the scene of that fateful night, each time adding one or two more tidbits of information, so by the end it had also become a bit anticlimactic.  In general, I felt that it was a poorly written book BUT I was more interested in the story being told, so I was able to overlook that.

If you’re interested in what really happened to Natalie Wood, you should consider Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour.  You’ll be heartsick for Natalie and angered at the way the case has been handled.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I purchased this book from Amazon for my kindle.

13 Responses

  1. I was a fan of Natalie Wood from the time I saw her in the movie Splendor in the Grass, with Warren Beattie. Totally captivating actress. I’ve read other biographies of the actress, including one by her sister Lana Wood, so I would probably skip through those parts in the book. But I, too, always had questions about what really happened that night. It did seem to be a cover-up. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hate it when the same scene is replayed over and over again in slightly different ways, so this would probably bother me to no end. I have been intrigued by this story since hearing about how the case was being reopened, so I might go ahead and read this one anyway, but I can tell you that I will probably be annoyed at bits of it. Great review today. It sounds like a book that tells a very different version of the night than the one that the public has come to know.

  3. True crime stories used to be a real guilty pleasure of mine; maybe I should give this one a try as a way to get back into the genre.

  4. WHAT??!!! You have never seen West Side Story?! Oh are you in for a treat. Gots to go rent that one. Goodness Girlfriend, not knowing who Natalie Wood is…

    So did this book being published what made them re-open the case?

    • I know, I need to see it! I am sure that this book helped have the case reopened, although I haven’t heard anything definitive. Supposedly Wagner is not a suspect at this time though, which is difficult to believe.

  5. (eek, that sentence doesn’t sound very… sound. I apologize for my poor grammar)

  6. I know next to nothing about this case… sounds like an interesting read!

  7. I don’t really know anything about Natalie Wood either. I didn’t know what her case was being reopened. I know what you mean about “amateur” authors like this … ones where they are in a position to know something that is worth writing about but can’t really communicate the story in a good way. This is when a really good ghost writer is needed. Based on your review, part of me just wants the highlights of what happened and skip the book.

  8. I remember when Wood died and even back then I figured Wagner had something to do with it. I think my mom would like this book.

  9. I was totally turned off this book because I followed the author on Twitter (shortly), and she tweeted the same thing all the time. Like tweets from days before. Over and over.

    Then I read more about this captain dude, and I just don’t know how much I trust it. However, I will say her death has always fascinated me. She was such an incredibly beautiful woman, and yes, something very fishy happened on that boat.

    • My husband agrees with you as far as the captain goes–he was shocked I would believe so wholeheartedly what Davern had to say about what happened that night. His version was corroborated by other evidence though, and it seems pretty obvious to me that what Wagner said happened that night was a load of crap!

  10. Hm, I appreciate the comments you made about the unnecessary parts of this book. I’m not interested in the story enough to read it despite those flaws in the writing.

  11. I saw that they’d re-opened the caae of her death on the News recently, as you said I’ve never been very convinced by the original story/verdict. Sounds like this was an interesting read.

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