Before there was Feud on FX to explore some of the context surrounding her life, much of Joan Crawford's legacy was tied up in Mommie Dearest, a scathing memoir by her eldest daughter, Christina Crawford, that eventually was made into a movie starring Faye Dunaway. In Mommie Dearest, Christina alleges emotional and physical abuse. After watching Feud, you might want to buy Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest book and see for yourself what Christina had to say about her childhood, as there were some things in the movie that were changed and she wasn't in on the screenplay adaptation.
But be prepared to spend some dough. It's much easier to get your hands on the Mommie Dearest DVD. The book, like everything else in the world, is on Amazon. The 1978 novel in hardcover sells for around $30 used (it is out of print). The paperback sells for around $35 used. You can buy it new for $68 and $85, respectively. Actually, given it's rarity, it might be a fun book to put on your list of things to keep your eye out for at a flea market or used bookstore, in the chance of getting it cheaper. But if you must have it, right away, it's there on Amazon for anyone who wants it.
Crawford was estranged from her eldest daughter and died in 1977, so she never got to read the book or see Faye Dunaway, whom she respected, play the part of the deranged mother. But, like everything else you read, don't take the memoir as the whole truth. Crawford was also estranged from her son, Christopher, but her other two adopted twin daughters, Cathy and Cindy, claim to remember a very different childhood.
Christina wrote in the book that "Mommie dearest" was what Crawford made them call her (reportedly she would correct them if they said anything else), but the twins have always alleged that they have always felt very dearly for their mother. Cathy has disavowed the book and taken Christina to court, for writing in Mommie Dearest that Cathy and Cindy weren't actually twins, just two children that Crawford adopted that were the same age and looked alike. Cathy won the lawsuit.
It's hard to know which of Crawford's children is right, but maybe that's not the point. If anything, Ryan Murphy's Feud shows viewers that there's more to these two Hollywood stars than the headlines and gossip about them. So buy Mommie Dearest the book and decide for yourself what's fact and what's fiction.