When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana for Hollywood, she never imagines she’ll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie’s provincial Midwestern hometown. Although the young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, the only job Julie’s able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick—who is busy burning through directors, writers and money as he begins filming Gone with the Wind. (from the publisher)
I know historical fiction isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. I also know there are those out there who don’t enjoy real flesh and blood characters being mixed into their fiction. I am not one of those people. I love it. I trust the authors I’m reading have done their research so most of the actual events are accurate. I can usually tell what is historically true and what is the author’s bit of fancy. And if not, I look it up. Which I tend to do anyway, since most the historical fiction I read make me want to know more about the events, people, or time period covered in the story.
I knew some of the back-story of the making of Gone With the WInd but very little about Carole Lombarde so there were some internet searches going on while I read A Touch of Stardust. Hollywood in the late 30s was in it’s Hey Day and must have been a wild, crazy, and completely magical time for all those “kids” from small towns with stars in their eyes ready to take the town by storm. It was also chauvinistic, hedonistic, and chewed up and spit out many of those poor kids.
Alcott made me see what it must have been like to be swept up in the glamour of Hollywood. I will say a little suspension of disbelief was required at how quickly our heroine entered into the private lives of Hollywood’s biggest names. But, I was okay with it since that’s what needed to happen to move our story along. And what a lovely, entertaining story it was. I got the feel the work a day world of Hollywood where stars and a kid from Indiana work side by side.
I loved Kate Alcott’s other books The Dressmaker and The Daring Ladies of Lowell. All her novels give me a sense of place. She fully immerses me in time, I was there with Julie when she meets the power players of old Hollywood. I was dazzled along with her at a dinner party where she meets David O. Selznick. Louis B. Mayer, and of course, Clark Gable and Carole Lombarde. This is a work of fiction so the personality attributed to Carole Lombarde is Alcott’s opinion of her (her husband, the late Frank Mankiewicz is the son of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and nephew of director Joesph Mankiewicz, so I think she had a pretty well informed opinion) but I would like to have known Lombarde. And while she was never one of my go to actresses when it came to old movies. I think I’m going to give her a try now.
This was a fun, fairly quick read and I look forward to whatever she writes next. Isn’t that the awful part about a new book from an author you love? All that time waiting for the next one.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy of A Touch of Stardust.