Title: The Girl – Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist

Author: Michelle Morgan

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Perseus Books/Running Press

The Blurb

With an in-depth look at the two most empowering years in the life of Marilyn Monroe, The Girl details how The Seven Year Itch created an icon and sent the star on an adventure of self-discovery and transformation from a controlled wife and contract player into a businesswoman and unlikely feminist whose power is still felt today.

When Marilyn Monroe stepped over a subway grating as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch and let a gust of wind catch the skirt of her pleated white dress, an icon was born. Before that, the actress was mainly known for a nude calendar and one-dimensional, albeit memorable, characters on the screen. Though she again played a “dumb blonde” in this film and was making headlines by revealing her enviable anatomy, the star was now every bit in control of her image, and ready for a personal revolution.

Emboldened by her winning fight to land the role of The Girl, the making of The Seven Year Itch and the eighteen months that followed was the period of greatest confidence, liberation, and career success that Monroe lived in her tumultuous life. It was a time in which, among other things, she:

Ended her marriage to Joe DiMaggio and later began a relationship with Arthur Miller; Legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, divorcing herself from the troubled past of Norma Jeane; Started her own production company; Studied in private lessons with Lee and Paula Strasberg of the Actors Studio and became a part of the acting revolution of the day. The ripple effects her personal rebellion had on Hollywood, and in trailblazing the way for women that followed, will both surprise and inspire readers to see the Marilyn Monroe in an entirely new light.

The Review

Marilyn Monroe has always been an actress that I have been in awe of. Not necessarily for her acting skills – I can’t say that I have seen enough of her movies to make a fair judgement on that but as an icon I have always been overwhelmed by her power of longevity. It is nearly sixty years since her death and really there is only one Marilyn. You don’t even have to say her surname and people know who you are talking about.

Lately I have read a few books about her life and each one has compelled me to read more. What I have found with the other books I have read is a lack of warmth and a detachment to Marilyn Monroe as a person. In Michelle Morgan’s books you are given a very warm and sympathetic look at her life and that was really refreshing. Whilst Morgan doesn’t claim Marilyn was perfect she tries to understand the flaws and imperfections rather than making sweeping gestures.

Of all the Marilyn Monroe books I have read of late this happens to be the one I have enjoyed the most. It only looks at a relatively small (but important) period of Marilyn Monroe’s life but it shows just how much of an impact Marilyn Monroe made on the movie industry and helped paved the way for women working in that field that is felt even today.

The Girl – Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan.

For more information regarding Michelle Morgan (@MMWriterGirl) please visit www.michellemorgan.co.uk.

For more information regarding Perseus Books (@PerseusBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Running Press (@Running_Press) please visit www.runningpress.com.

Title: A Berlin Love Song

Author: Sarah Matthias

Pages: 426 Pages

Publisher: Troika Books

The Blurb

Max is 17, a German schoolboy, when he meets Lili, a trapeze artist from a travelling circus that performs every year in Berlin. Lili is from a Romani gypsy family whose life and customs are very different from those of Max and his family. Their friendship turns into love – but love between a member of the Hitler youth and a gypsy is forbidden. As events tear them apart can their love survive? Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, A Berlin Love Song is a love story of passion, unexpected friendship, despair, loss and hope. It exposes the extermination of the Roma and Sinti referred by Angela Merkel as the forgotten holocaust.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Whenever I read a book that is set during the holocaust I initially forget just how breathtakingly horrific it was. As I read on, I am reminded of the atrocities and the lack of humanity and then I am saddened that mass genocide still happens today.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is an important book. Besides being beautifully written and besides telling a romantic love story it also tells the story of what is known as the forgotten holocaust; a time when it wasn’t only Jewish people who were persecuted but people who were gay, had dwarfism or who were travellers.

A Berlin Love Song tells the story of Max and Lili – two people who should not be together but have fallen in love in difficult circumstances. The message being that love transcends race, time and distance.

I have nothing but praise for this fabulous story. A Berlin Love Song deserves to be read just like the story of how the travelling community were persecuted during World War Two needs to be known.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Matthias (@SarahMatthias7) please visit her www.sarahmatthias.co.uk.

For more information regarding Troika Books (@TroikaBooks) please visit www.troikabooks.com.

Title: Rio Grande, Wisconsin

Author: JoAnn Novak

Pages: 28 Pages

Publisher: Day One

The Blurb

This story was originally published in Day One, a weekly literary journal dedicated to short fiction and poetry from emerging writers.

Frankie is twelve, and she’s feeling a bit too old for family vacations. So on yet another trip to the Wisconsin Dells, she’ll use the rudimentary coping skills available to preadolescents: fake-sleeping in the car, ignoring her parents, tormenting her brother. And, of course, fantasizing about Bill Murray.

Her mother wants Frankie to watch her weight, but the tween refuses to police her body—or to be ashamed of her enjoyment of it. At every opportunity—in the pool, during dinner, at the wax museum—her mom pushes, and Frankie pushes back.

Imaginative and honest, Rio Grande, Wisconsin is a coming-of-age story about the awkward and dysfunctional ways mothers and daughters show love, and how one unique girl attempts to feed the insatiable existential hunger that comes with growing up.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Oh dear.

I read Rio Grande, Wisconsin unsure about what it would be about but I was intrigued by the cover. What I got was a story that was just a little bit pointless and a lot under-developed. The development of the story, of there being an actual point to the story would have made it more enjoyable but all I felt after reading it from beginning to end was that I had just wasted my time.

Rio Grande, Wisconsin by JoAnn Novak is available now.

Title: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Author: Joshua Ferris

Pages: 340 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

There’s nothing like a dental chair to remind a man that he’s alone in the world . . .Paul O’Rourke – dentist extraordinaire, reluctant New Yorker, avowed atheist, disaffected Red Sox fan, and a connoisseur of the afternoon mochaccino – is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity. So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual ‘Paul’ might be a better version of the man in the flesh . . .

The Review

So. I won’t lie to you. I didn’t really ‘get’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. If I break it down to the sum of its parts it is about a man who lacks a father figure who clings on to the families of the women he dates; the man is a dentist and has his identity stolen and has a mini mental breakdown over it.

So I can understand the separate parts but I don’t know what I was meant to feel afterwards. Therefore, all I can say about To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is that Joshua Ferris is a good writer but I don’t think I am the best audience for his books.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Shelf-Love

Author: Ben Dolnick

Pages: 27 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

In “Shelf-Love,” Ben Dolnick recounts his feverish, hilarious, occasionally mortifying love for the writing of Alice Munro; an essay for everyone who has ever truly loved a book, and for anyone who has ever thought about writing one.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

What a strange little collection. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about shelf love as a concept. Lord knows I love my shelf so much that I ran out of room. Shelf-Love, the short collection by Ben Dolnick is all about his love for Alice Munro; a perfectly respectable love. I think that Ben Dolnick, to justify the existence of Shelf-Love and to make himself seem a little less fan-boyish should make this a series and celebrate other writers he loves as well. I really enjoyed Shelf-Love but it did leave me feeling that there could be more to this.

Shelf-Love by Ben Dolnick is available now

For more information regarding Ben Dolnick (@bendolnickbooks) please visit www.bendolnick.com.