Cheat and Charmer: A Novel
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Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  146 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Twenty-five years in the making, a first novel that has already been compared to The Sun Also Rises and The Last Tycoon, Cheat and Charmer is certain to be one of the most admired literary debuts of the season. Written by Pulitzer Prize—winning biographer Elizabeth Frank, Cheat and Charmer is a masterful and richly detailed work of fiction–a Tolstoyan novel of marriage, si...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Khristin Schachtschneider
This book was very interesting and, while I could not wait to find out what was going to happen, there is not one, single character that you can actually LIKE as you read this. They are all so flawed. But maybe that is realistic?
Mar 24, 2010 Tamcamry rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one, ever...
Alright, this is the second bad book I’ve had in a row. I’m really hoping my luck will change. There are so many awful things about this book I almost don’t even know where to begin. First this book was pretty unabashedly pro-Communist. It just sort of glossed over the two billion people oppressed by Communist regimes worldwide. It also forgot about the millions murdered for being political enemies of the state in Russia under Stalin. It actually had one character deny that that happened. The ot...more
This intriguing story primarily takes place in 1930's-1950's Old Hollywood and deals with the multifaceted emotions that result from the choices these characters make. I found this story engrossing b/c I had never read a book that dealt w/ McCarthyism and it's affect on the movers and shakers in Hollywood. The story focuses on two sisters and their love/hate relationship. The story opens as Dinah, the stuttering, less glamorous sister is subpoenaed to "name" her beautiful, shallow, emotionally a...more
Naomi Kelsey
Words can't encompass how awesome this book is. I have read it many times, and have savored its bittersweet mix of frothy high society and post war Hollywood fun and familial betrayal and forgiveness each time.

The author could have presented us with a good girl heroine and a likable bad girl foil, instead she created deep, complex female characters who act like humans do-- making mistakes, forgiving cads, loving family even as they hurt you, spiraling into self destruction over a lost love.

I had a hard time determing if this was historical fiction or just simple fiction so I ended up putting it on both shelves.

The benefit here, as a reader, is you are completely entertained and entranced by the lives of this hollywood family while still being swept into an educational book about life in the 50's with the red fear sweeping throughout the country: McCarthyism.

The story is part romance, part fiction, part dysfunctional family. There are politics but they are so well embedded into the...more
Hollywood during the McArthur era. Focused on woman surrounded by cheaters and charmers, namely her husband and sister. Dinah Milligan is stuttering main character who testifies in exchange for her husband's film career. She feels guilty from then on, and is shunned by many Communists who refused to testify and endured the consequences. She feels responsible for her sister's subsequent death and eventually finds out what kind of man her husband really is. Not clear how she'll come through at the...more
Aug 28, 2008 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves old Hollywood and dramatic relationships.
I just finished reading this for the second time - I first read it in 2004, but re-visited it again this past week. I have always been intrigued by old Hollywood and love to read anything that allows me to glimpse into that world. I picked this up at an airport and read it in a matter of days. It was fun to guess which characters represented which 'real life' stars. I felt both compassion and infuriation with the main character as she dealt with all the awful people in her family and life at a t...more
this was a book where all the characters were really hard to like. even the protagonist, is annoyingly loyal and self-deprecating, to the point where you just want to slap her upside the head sometimes. although the glimpse into mccarthyism's affect in hollywood was interesting, overall, the book left something to be desired. engaging at points, towards the very end, the characters just became too odious for me to care one way or another what happened to them.
The story is about so many things; early Hollywood, the destruction caused by the McCarthy hearings, husbands and wives, sibling rivalry, loyalty, and love. The characters are all too real. I wanted so badly to know who each of these characters might have been based in the real Hollywood.

Marion Meade
A Pulitzer-winning biographer (the life of poet Louise Bogan) uses her own family background for a novel about Hollywood. Quite interesting if you know the real-life identities of her characters, less so if you don't. Still, a lot of time and effort must have gone into this book.
This is a trashy novel about Hollywood. Yum! It is a little bit too long, but if you enjoy the husband that sleeps around, the loyal wife, the slutty sister, and trying to figure out who the characters are in real life, then you'll have fun.
enh. Started out GREAT, interesting view into Hollywood in the 40s and 50s...but the story just couldn't keep me going. I started hating all of the characters. A lot. Beautifully written!
Despite the fact that each sister is more infuriating than the next, I was fully sucked into their disfunction and the rather unique perspective of the time.
Couldn't care enough about the characters to stick with this past the first 100 pages or so.
Aug 30, 2007 Lupine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This was a great summer read. Wonderful insight into the Hollywood scene during McCarthyism.
May 17, 2009 Lisa marked it as to-read
I picked this up at the dollar store, hopefully it's worth more than that!
A wonderful read about Hollywood during the McCarthy era.
A book I always lend out. Fantastic writing.
Absolutely awful. Couldn't get past page 30.
Dori James
How the McCarthy era affected people in America
Susan recommended this... good read..
Excellent story about famous movie writer/producer/director in Hollywood in the 1930's
Linda Lipko
Linda Lipko marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2014
Olivia marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2014
Daisy Nancy
Daisy Nancy marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2014
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