Ray & Joan is a quintessentially American tale of corporate intrigue and private passion: a struggling Mad Men era salesman with a vision fora fast-food franchise that would become one of the world s most enduring brands, and a beautiful woman willing to risk her marriage and her reputation to promote controversial causes that touched her deeply.
Ray Kroc was peddling franchises around the country for a fledgling hamburger stand in the 1950s McDonald s, it was called when he entered a St. Paul supper club and encountered a beautiful young piano player who would change his life forever. The attraction between Ray and Joan was instantaneous and instantly problematic. Yet even the fact that both were married to other people couldn t derail their roller coaster of a romance.
To the outside world, Ray and Joan were happy, enormously rich, and giving. But privately, Joan was growing troubled over Ray s temper and dark secret, something she was reluctant to publicly reveal. Those close to them compared their relationship to that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And yet, this volatility paved the way for Joan s transformation into one of the greatest philanthropists of our time. A force in the peace movement, she produced activist films, books, and music and ultimately gave away billions of dollars, including landmark gifts to the Salvation Army and NPR.
Together, the two stories form a compelling portrait of the twentieth century: a story of big business, big love, and big giving.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Golden Arches aficionados worldwide have been scarfing down their Big Macs and fries in ignorance of the tumultuous, glamorous love story of its founder, Ray Kroc, and his third wife, Joan. This glitzy history by journalist Napoli (Radio Shangri-La) follows the titular couple through the first years of the legendary company, the growing popularity of the McDonald’s brand, Ray’s early career and marriages to (and divorces from) his first and second wives, and all the way to Joan’s heroic philanthropic efforts before and following Ray’s death. They met when she was a restaurant pianist and he was an ambitious, newly wealthy businessman. She supported his business efforts in a way he hadn’t experienced with his previous wives, and their long, happy marriage weathered success, lawsuits, and a changing business world. Joan substantially supported myriad causes in her lifetime, notably embarking on a dedicated crusade to help people struggling with alcoholism. Napoli’s energetic, slightly tabloidesque narrative style make this a must-read for anyone who loves a good love story behind a business success. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (Nov.)