Title: Well Behaved Women

Author: Caroline Lamond

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

When Maybelle Crabtree, a God-fearing farm girl from Kentucky, has a chance encounter with a charismatic stranger, her life changes forever. With an invitation to join the infamous Alla Nazimova and her Sewing Circle, Maybelle’s eyes are opened to a life of decadence and glamour.

Able to freely discover her own sexuality, Maybelle embraces all that Hollywood has to offer in the hedonist roaring twenties.

But both Maybelle and Alla have secrets that threaten to bring their gilded lives crashing down. Hearts will be broken, careers destroyed and friendships shattered because what happens behind closed doors, doesn’t stay hidden forever…

TW: This book contains scenes of a sexual nature, violence, domestic abuse and abortion.

The Review

I do love me some historical fiction and I really enjoyed Caroline Lamond’s Well Behaved Women.

Well Behaved Women focuses on the life of real life actress Alla Nazimova and asks “what if?” Caroline Lamond has magically woven a story out of this concept and invited readers to a time and place that we can only dream about being a part of and peeks behind the curtain of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

Accompanying Alla’s story we have Maybelle – a country bumpkin who is seduced by the Hollywood crowd. We follow her into Alla’s world and marvel at how different her life becomes.

Well Behaved Women is a good story and the sapphic elements make you realise just how careful people had to be due to the judgement of those around them. It is an entertaining read and one that fans of historical fiction, the world of celebrity and LGBTQIA+ stories will love.

Well Behaved Women by Caroline Lamond is available now.

For more information regarding Caroline Lamond (@carolinelamond) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins UK (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Marilyn MonroeTitle: Marilyn Monroe

Author: Barbara Leaming

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

Barbara Leaming’s Marilyn Monroe is a complex, sympathetic portrait that will forever change the way we view the most enduring icon of America sexuality. To those who think they have heard all there is to hear about Marilyn Monroe, think again. Leaming’s book tells a bran-new tale of sexual, psychological, and political intrigue of the highest order. Told for the first time in all its complexity, this is a compelling portrait of a woman at the centre of a drama with immensely high stakes, a drama in which the other players are some of the most fascinating characters from the worlds of movies, theatre, and politics. It is a book that shines a bright light on one of the most tumultuous frightening, and exciting periods in American culture.

Basing her research on new interviews and on thousands of primary documents – including revealing letters by Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, John Huston, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Darryl Zanuck, Marilyn’s psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, and many others – Leaming has reconstructed the tangle of betrayal in Marilyn’s Life. For the first time, a master story teller has put together all the pieces and told Marilyn’s story with the intensity and drama it so richly deserves.

At the heart of this book is a sexual triangle and a riveting story that has never been told before. You will come away filled with new respect for Marilyn’s incredible courage, dignity, and loyalty, and an overwhelming sense of tragedy after witnessing Marilyn, powerless to overcome her demons, move inexorably to her own final, terrible betrayal of herself.

Marilyn Monroe is a book that will make you think and will break your heart.

The Review

I never knew an awful lot about Marilyn Monroe. I knew she was an iconic actress and that she had been married to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio. I knew that it had been rumoured that she had had an affair with JFK but all this stuff is the generic facts that most people know. Once I had read Barbara Leaming’s book I knew so much more.

What I really loved about this book was that Leaming didn’t glorify Monroe. She discussed matters of Monroe’s life in an in-depth but sensitive way. She had a knack of showing Monroe, warts and all, without making your perceptions of Monroe too altered yet giving you an extra dimension to consider.

It isn’t just the story of Marilyn Monroe. It is the story of film making and Monroe as one of the first cluster of women who tried to break through the glass ceiling of an industry long considered a boys club.

Marilyn Monroe is a fascinating read.

Marilyn Monroe by Barbara Leaming is available now.

35 Stars

The Girls in the PictureTitle: The Girls in the Picture

Author: Melanie Benjamin

Pages: 422 Pages

Publisher: Delacorte Press

The Blurb

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, a fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

The Review

Firstly let me thank Samuel Bonner from Pengiun Random House for sending me a review copy of The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin.

I think 2018, for me, is going to be the year of historical fiction. I have recently developed a love of fictional accounts of true events and although we are only half a month into the year this genre has already become quite favourable.

The Girls in the Picture tells the story of the epic birth of motion pictures in Hollywood. It looks at the development of silent movies and how it grew into films that were referred to as ‘talkies’. All of this is told through the eyes of Hollywood legend Mary Pickford and pioneering screenwriter Frances Marion. The golden age of Hollywood was very much a boys club but some women really did have their fingers on the pulses of what was wanted in the world of film.

Pickford and Marion had a working relationship alongside their friendship and this is their story…or at least Melanie Benjamin’s fictional account. The progression of their working relationship led to the development of the film industry as we know it which is discussed in depth in the novel. However, it is the fractured nature of their relationship juxtaposed with the disintegration of Pickford’s career that is the real pull of the novel.

The Girls in the Picture is not a fast passed novel by any stretch of the imagination. It is a slow read which allows you to paint a picture of a time – and indeed the people – that Hollywood has forgot. It also comes at a very poignant time as the #metoo campaign and the equal pay in Hollywood argument is so fervent. The pioneering efforts of Marion and Pickford (and other women during that time period) still have relevance today.

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin is available now.

For more information regarding Melanie Benjamin (@MelanieBen) please visit www.melaniebenjamin.com.

For more information regarding Delacorte Press (@DelacortePress) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars