Really loved this up until the time that there's an unexpected visitation at the house, and then the whole thing fell apart for me. There's this greatReally loved this up until the time that there's an unexpected visitation at the house, and then the whole thing fell apart for me. There's this great setup with this young woman going to Hollywood to become a seamstress/modiste, and breaking into the movies, and then that whole part of the book just goes away. The protagonist is an interesting character, but Lisette and Aimee are like cartoons, and the book descends into melodrama, the entire premise just gets thrown up in the air, and it's really disappointing.
The writer has a lot of talent and I'll definitely look for more books from her, but I hope the next one has a better structured story that doesn't throw the premise, and all the build, away three-quarters of the way in....more
Elva Kay may just be the greatest stage mother of all time. Like Gertrude Temple, mother of the amazing Shirley, she starts exposing her daughter to aElva Kay may just be the greatest stage mother of all time. Like Gertrude Temple, mother of the amazing Shirley, she starts exposing her daughter to art while she's still a fetus: "I carried it around the Art Institute, on a Votes for Women float where I paraded in costume as the Liberty Belle, took it to a concert by Caruso, a matinee of the classic motion picture 'Quo Vadis?' and an exhibition of magic by Houdini under which he escaped from a sealed chest underwater."
It pays off. Baby Jewel arrives in Hollywood in the year 1919 and almost immediately takes the town by storm with her series of shorts. Lambert, who also wrote the definitive child-star novel "Inside Daisy Clover", takes Baby and her mother from 1919-1982, and includes such characters as Theda Bara, William Desmond Taylor (with a new take on THAT mystery), Lillian Gish, D.W. Griffith, Howard Hughes, Louis B. Mayer and more.
Elva and Jewel have an intense relationship, truly love each other, and keep secrets from each other like mad. It's a realistic, engaging, maddening relationship that rings true.
Kanin is, of course, extremely knowledgable about Hollywood history, and this book is an insider's look at the rise of the film industry in L.A. as well as simply a fun, fast-moving, character-driven story. If you love movies, Hollywood, and strong female characters, get yourself a copy of this book and prepare to enjoy yourself....more
This was a pretty good read... but it might have been even better if it were a straight-ahead look at the making of this movie, without Stagg's increaThis was a pretty good read... but it might have been even better if it were a straight-ahead look at the making of this movie, without Stagg's increasingly annoying opinionated asides about the merits of today's Hollywood stars, the deficits of Claudette Colbert in the original version, and so on and so on. It gets even more irritating when he repeats himself... okay, we get it, you're not a big fan of Nicole Kidman. I don't see what that has to do with "Imitation of Life"... and with Stagg's over-the-top hero worship of Lana Turner, who really is just okay in the film. He's also really kind of rabid about how much better the second film is than the first film (which gives him a chance to attack Colbert and Warren William), an opinion with which I disagree. The second film is odd in that the African-American character has no real relevance to the rise of the white character; in the original movie, which was closer to the novel's story, the white woman's rise to fame and money is because of the black woman's secret waffle recipe. In the newer version, she's strictly a maid/housekeeper. Not so interesting.
Anyway, an intriguing look at the making of the movie, but Stagg gets in his own way by interjecting himself too much into the history....more