Why did you choose this book?
I love the Golden Age of Hollywood and the movie stars from that time. My personal favorites are Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and David Niven.
What’s it about?
The novel primarily follows young starlet Loretta Young and her Italian-American secretary, Alda Ducci. Alda is asked to leave the convent where she is a novice, and she begins working for Loretta. Loretta and Alda head to Mount Baker to work on The Call of the Wild, a film based on the classic novel by Jack London. Loretta falls for her co-star, Clark Gable, and discovers she’s pregnant with his child.
Hollywood, old films, historical fiction
Other recommended reads?
It’s a bit different, but David Niven wrote several books. If you like this, you might also enjoy those.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. First, I think one of the hardest things is to write historical fiction about real people, as opposed to characters created by the author. Invariably, the characters on the page don’t mesh with the public figures each reader thinks they know. I certainly know that was true in my case. I loved the way Trigiani imbued Niven with a wickedly funny sense of humor and gave Loretta a degree of spunk, but I’m not sure I agreed with some of her other characterizations. The other thing I found challenging was that Trigiani switched characters frequently – sometimes even in the course of one paragraph. She told the story from the perspective of a dozen or more characters, some of whom only got the leading role for a few pages.
I’m also not sure how closely the story plays to history. Recent evidence indicates that Gable date-raped Young (see this article). This novel, however, portrays Judy’s conception purely as an act of love.
As I said, I thought it was an enjoyable read, but I had a hard time reconciling my impressions of these famous figures with the characters in the book. If you read it, let me know what you think.
A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady