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Nothing but a Smile: A Novel
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Nothing but a Smile: A Novel

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  237 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
From the author of the widely praised The Lake, the River & the Other Lake comes the delightful love story of a man and a woman who choose an unconventional way to redefine themselves during and after World War II.

It’s 1944, and Wink Dutton, a former illustrator for Yank and Stars and Stripes, has arrived in Chicago after an injury to his drawing hand gets him an unwan
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2009)
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Mar 16, 2009 Sara rated it liked it
Reading this book was like watching a movie from the 1940s, with lots of screwball moments and a good love story developing throughout. And the pinup photo shoot scenes would be hilarious.

The characters were perfectly portrayed, Sal with her mix of spunk and business sense and Wink's easy-going nature and corny jokes. I thought the dialogue was dead on, never sounding forced, never unrealistic, even with the hearty helping of 1940s slang. The romance and humor was balanced by the lousy treatmen
Apr 21, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
A charming and cheeky love story, with an offbeat, appealing setting--the pinup photography scene during and after WWII. I thoroughly enjoyed this as a stylish, unconventional romance from a very straighforward, "dude" point of view--no flowery language here. And it explored in a really interesting way some of the big cultural changes of the post-war era, like the migration from cities to suburbs, the emphasis on conformity, and the paranoia about "subversive" political activity. This would have ...more
Dec 13, 2009 Shawna rated it liked it
From the review I read in People magazine I guess I was expecting something just a little bit racier from this novel. I thought the story was overlong, and the frame (opening with an older woman who is clearly Sal packing up her house to go live in an old folks home because of the onset of forgetfulness) zapped all the power from the end of the story. I wonder if it is possible to write a book about "the greatest generation" that doesn't paint every last one of them as open-minded, warm, and fun ...more
Oct 30, 2009 Graceann rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Recommended to Graceann by: my husband
Wink Dutton, an artist sidelined by wartime injury, finds himself in Chicago with very little money and even less in the way of prospects. He reaches out to Sal Chesterton, the wife of his buddy still in the Pacific, and together they try to keep her Chicago camera shop going. The idea Sal comes up with, before Wink even enters the picture is a bawdy one - she's going to give boys a peek at what they're fighting for, and make a few bucks at the same time.

The era is beautifully evoked by Amick, a
Apr 20, 2009 Angela rated it liked it
I wanted to like this one, I was hoping for vintage charm along the lines of Water for Elephants, Carter Beats the Devil, or The Last Days of Summer. That was a pretty high hope, though, considering those are three incredibly good books (CBtD and TLDoB are definitely on my top twenty list).

Nothing But a Smile didn't live up to my hopes, but it was a fun read anyhow. It's about a woman struggling to keep her family's camera shop in the black during WWII. When business slows and the creditors star
Mar 23, 2009 Debbie rated it liked it
I had read Amick's first novel, The Lake, the River and the Other Lake. I found it sweet, but when I used it for a library book discussion, the members were appalled with some of the sexual content. I think I would have the same response with this one. I again found it sweet. During WWII while her photographer husband is in the Pacific taking photos for Stars and Stripes a young wife is barely managing to get by trying to keep their camera shop in the Chicago Loop going. To make ends meet she ta ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Joshua rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009
This book should have been so much better! Based on the setting and subject I thought I'd really love it--I didn't. Nearly a one star for me which is a rare thing on here as I usually stop reading books I don't like after about 50-75 pages because there are so many books to get to that I would like more.

Anyway, this is set at the tail end of WW2 and involves a group of people getting drawn into the world of pin-up photography. I love those classic pin-ups so thought that subject combined with a
Mike Lindgren
May 24, 2009 Mike Lindgren rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In "Nothing but a Smile" (Pantheon, $24.95), Steve Amick's jaunty romp through World War II-era Chicago, Wink Dutton spends most of his time trying not to feel foolish as he struggles to keep up with Sal Chesterton. She's the wife of his army buddy who's still stationed abroad, but she's keeping the home fires warm by producing homemade pinup photos starring herself. Discharged from the service for a minor wound, Wink finds himself living down the hall from her and helping her make those salacio ...more
Sep 27, 2009 Rachael rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, adult
This is the story of, primarily, Sal and Wink, two people thrown together as a result of war, just trying to make ends meet. Of course, they choose to make ends meet in a very interesting way - producing Pin up photos, with Sal, and eventually her friend Reenie as the stars. With some old-time charm and romance, plus some tension thrown in from government men and other troublemakers to make things interesting.
Unfortunately, the tension does not make things more interesting. The story never seeme
Oct 10, 2014 Megan rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2011 Slone rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2009 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Pin-ups and war widows and returning vets and falling in love, I enjoyed this one but found it maybe a little too ambitious at times. The central story was a good, old-fashioned boy meets girl story. But, the half-hearted government investigations and the gang interference seemed contrived to provide artificial obstacles to the main story. The characters were quite well drawn however, and the story was still one that kept this reader turning the page. There were times when it seemed like there w ...more
Emma Burkhart
Apr 02, 2009 Emma Burkhart rated it liked it
An enjoyable story, set during WWII and immediately after, about an ex-soldier who returns to civilian life and, as a favor, checks in on the wife of a friend who is still on the front. They hit it off and he moves in -- purely as a boarder, despite his obvious (but suppressed) feelings for her. Money is tight, so the new friends embark on a risky and thrilling scheme for making some cash: composing racy pin-up girl photos for publication. The tone remains light throughout the book, but shadows ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Nothing But a Smile by Steve Amick is set in WWII. Sal isn’t sure how she is going to keep the family camera store going while her husband is away in the war and she doesn’t want to trouble him while he is in danger. Times are tough; customers are few and far between. Sal needs to think outside the box, color outside the lines. She decides to pose for pinups, be patriotic by cheering the troops and save the shop at the same time. Complications ensue.This is a lively, interesting book written wit ...more
Cee Spind
Aug 03, 2014 Cee Spind rated it liked it
Loved the characters, found myself wondering if he'd watched the Betty Paige movie.
Oct 25, 2012 Janet added it
Shelves: fiction, 2010
I really enjoyed Amick's first novel, "The Lake, the River & the Other Lake", so I picked this up, too. The setting couldn't be more different -- from the Upper Peninsula in 2001 to Chicago as WWII is ending -- but they both have the same virtues. While plot is definitely happening, the book is character driven, and rich with a sense of place. Though his settings are middleclass Midwestern, he always has an edge. In this book, it's clear that being a woman in the 40s isn't easy, and the earl ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Richard rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: nobody I know
Recommended to Richard by: This was an ARC I found at work.
Too many things in this story that do not work well...especially the purity an naivety of these folks at the beginning of the porn industry. Interestingly, Hugh Hefner has a cameo.
Aug 12, 2010 Shelley rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Pinups and war widows and sexy fun romance - I thought I was going to love this. It was just too long and meandering, though. It started off great, lots of fun with the photo shoots and developing relationships and the slow fall and the great 1940s Chicago feeling, but kept going. And it shouldn't have. Because then there was the FBI and the lawyer and the Pulitzer and the enemy list and the marriages and the fleeing from the city and those things were not fun. How odd. It could have b ...more
Leslie Wilkins
Jun 15, 2009 Leslie Wilkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-girls-book
This is a fun read about a woman who decides to start contributing to the pin-up business, and the relationships that happen in and around that. Lots of good stuff here, from multi-faceted characters, to commentary on sexism and war, with some scenes from Chicago and Ann Arbor thrown in. Though the voice/narrative changes between that of the woman and that of the main male character, the writing definitely reflects that the author is a man, and that was refreshing for me.
Oct 01, 2009 Connie rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
This was a good book, but not a memorable book. I was enjoying it and then it "jumped the shark" going way too far. To me, introducing "Hef" was too convenient, as were several other plot elements. The story dragged on at least 50 pages longer than it needed; I imagine the author was trying find a conclusion. All together this story was satisfying and an interesting concept.
Mar 28, 2009 Cynthia rated it liked it
It starts out as a really well put together story and drew me in well until the point where one of the characters dies. It sort of spun out of control from there. With that nice little piece of foreshadowing in the beginning, I really wish the author had gotten the end of the story more under control so that it felt believable as the beginning.
Jun 13, 2015 Pamela rated it liked it
Hoping for more period details, but I now know a lot more about pin-up shots.
Carol Johnson
Mar 19, 2015 Carol Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a fun sweet read! It was really interesting to get a glimpse into the "girlie picture" business during WWII! This was not porn....not even close...but the titillating pix that were published for soldiers calendars, etc! I enjoyed the book and recommend it if you are looking for a light entertaining book!
Aug 22, 2009 Allyson rated it it was ok
An engagingly fast read about 2 people's evolution into love and family with a side story of girlie photographs.
The writing was simple with phrasing I found pedestrian, but that should in no way diminish the book. I simply prefer a more literary experience. Something I can get lost in, and this was not that.
Mar 18, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
What a fun, fast-paced story! The pin-up industry is so interesting and this is a nice story about it. Set in Chicago with a nice tie-in to Ann Arbor. The author even thanks one of my fave high school teachers! I definitely recommend this book, and will look for other Amick novels.
May 11, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
This was a cute little story and a fun premise but I thought the execution fell a bit short. The plot got a bit complicated and hen just kind of crash landed. The prologue and epilogue were unnecessary. And this so-called romance that is touted on the cover is pretty weak.
Aug 03, 2011 Cranky rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book immensely; picked it up after liking "The Lake, the River, & the Other Lake." It was just a really fun read. Mr. Amick, if you're reading this: MORE BOOKS. WRITE THEM FASTER. I will bring over a casserole occasionally if that would help.

Jul 08, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Before starting it, I had read mixed reviews so I was unsure going in to it, but I really enjoyed it. It was the right mix of vintage material and writing without being corny or overdone. I would definitely recommend this book!
Jun 04, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
I read this in one day. It's a fun, breezy read. It's the story of the pinup girlie magazines during World War 2 and after and a man and 2 women who publish their own labels. Hef is even mentioned as working for them at one point in the book.
Aug 23, 2010 Roxanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
AM REALLY ENJOYING THIS BOOK...just the idea of this young wife trying to take her own pin up pictures makes it a chuckler at the beginning cannot wait to see what happens... and I wonder if Chesty comes home in the midst of it all Ha
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