""I was completely surprised at what was happening ... It is only on such occasions that one realizes how fantastic life can be," the British photographer Cecil Beaton wrote in his diary one day late in 1947. He was setting down an account of his first sexual encounter with Greta Garbo. They had become friends nearly two years earlier, when she confided to him, "My bed is very small and chaste. I hate it." He impetuously proposed marriage to her, and she declined, but then months later she came to his room at the Plaza Hotel in New York, drew the curtains, and they became lovers. Beaton had reason to be surprised at this turn of events. For one thing, his romantic attachments were almost exclusively with men and would continue to be. Garbo's sexuality, like everything about her, remains mysterious, but certainly included women, as Beaton well knew. One of her lovers in Hollywood in the thirties was the screenwriter Mercedes de Acosta, a friend of Beaton's who has the rare distinction of having had affairs with Garbo and Marlene Dietrich at the same time. As Alice B. Toklas wrote, "You can't dispose of Mercedes lightly."" "The story of Garbo and Beaton and Mercedes de Acosta is a complicated web of passionate relationships in a cosmopolitan social world encompassing Hollywood, New York, London, and Paris. The three of them loved and fought, came together and parted, for forty years. Loving Garbo is based on much previously unpublished material, including the letters of Beaton, Garbo, Mercedes, Dietrich, Anita Loos, Eva Le Gallienne, and many others. It provides an intimate view of Garbo that is both touching and surprising. At once exhilarating and exasperating, she inspired as much obsessive longing in real life as she did on screen."--Jacket.