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Lillian and Dash

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  28 reviews
This exciting novel about Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man) and Lillian Hellman (The Children’s Hour) reintroduces their larger-than-life personalities and the vicissitudes of their affair that spanned three decades.

Toperoff reimagines the highs and lows of a fast-living, hard-drinking literary couple, and their individual passions, projects, and liter
Kindle Edition, 395 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Other Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  156 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a rule, I steer away from reading novels taking prominent historical figures (Hemingway, Churchill, Lincoln) as their protagonists. It seems like a cheap way to develop the main character since we already know a lot about them. This novel re-imagining the lives and relationship of Lillian Hellman (I have not seen any of her plays) and Dashiell Hammett (I've read most of his books) caught my eye, and I think it works impressively well. Mr. Toperoff is an experienced writer, and that becomes ev ...more
What a charming novel that delves into the long affair between playwright Lillian Hellman [Little Foxes, The Children’s Hour] and noir author and screenwriter Dashiell Hammett [The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man]. Theirs was a complicated relationship as Dashiell remained married [and had several children] while Lillian never married. As both writers lived well before my time, I’m only familiar with their work. I’d seen and truly appreciated Hellman’s Little Foxes and The Children’s Hour but kn ...more
JoAnne Pulcino

Sam Toperoff

My friend Bernadette recommended this book and I’m ever so grateful. The recommendation coupled with my lifelong fascination and respect for these two literary giants was an incredible experience. I loved the book!

Mr. Toperoff’s expert writing brings this exciting over the top couple vividly to life. Dashiell Hammett is the recognized king of mystery noir while Lillian Hellman’s genius is widely known as a playwright. They are really so much more as they were erudite,
This book assumes you know and care about Lillian Hellman and Dash Hammett before you begin reading. That's why you picked it up, isn't it?

I admit I've never heard of them prior to this novel. I picked it up because I kept seeing the book in various places and something about the font on the cover begged me to read it.

The commencing chapter is a "he said, she said" kind of retelling of their first meeting. It's saucy and clever and the two accounts diverge so much that you know they're both int
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Read it for the: Love story, tragedy, history, trivia, and humanness.(is that a word?)Coming from someone who has trouble remembering little more than than whether I liked a book or not, I was amazed at the things I learned and engaged enough to share and spark many conversations.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing I knew about Hellman and Hammett were their contributions to the movies, the theatre and the dime novel, so I really enjoyed this peek into their private lives and the author's ability to turn his research into a very readable piece of fiction.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than others have rated it. A compelling story about a challenging relationship. I really got sucked in to these complex characters.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up in the library because I have appreciated Lillian Hellman ever since seeing the movie "Julia" (1977). My knowledge of Dashiell Hammett is more superficial, though I was intrigued by his portrayal in Locked Rooms where author Laurie R. King has him helping Sherlock Holmes solve a mystery in San Francisco.

Lillian and Dash is described as a novel, but could just as easily be called a biography with fictionalized interludes. The author alternates between third person narration and f
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never read any of Dashiell Hammett's or Lillian Hellman's writings, nor have I ever seen a Hellman play or movie. But I was a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart, making me a big fan of The Maltese Falcon, which led to The Thin Man. This is why I read Toperoff's book (and because my brother-in-law had it on his list of suggested books.)

Glad I read the book, though not entirely sure how I feel about it. Most of the time it read as I imagine a Dashiell Hammett novel would read. At first I found it ente
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lillian and Dash by Sam Toperoff.

I started reading listening to this biography(?) on CD expecting to hear of a long ago romantic relationship between two very talented authors. Unfortunately, that's not what I received. This book(biography?) was written as if this author had actually been there observing and listening to Lillian Helman and Dashiell Hammett together. That could not have been the case.

Yes these two marvelous authors did have a long lasting relationship that included romance but it
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, 2013-9-sep
An engaging look at a fascinating couple. I wouldn't have wanted to be their neighbor, more likely their drinking buddy (which is saying a lot, as I don't drink). Alternately fascinating and repellent, these two are always interesting, and undeniably brilliant. The sparkling wit of their early years subsides all-too soon into Dash's deepening alcoholism and illness, which characterized far too many of his later, unproductive years. Lillian, though difficult in so many ways, sustained them both, ...more
Jessica Jeffers
This may resonate more with someone who's already a fan of Dashiell Hammett or Lillian Hellmann, but it doesn't work for me. It reads toooooo much like a biography - not in a good way, but in a stilted, excess backstory kind of way. It also bounces around from two different first-person perspective (Dash's and Lillian's) and a third-person biographer-ish perspective to fill in the gaps. It makes the narrative too cluttered, too busy.
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While an interesting quasi-historical account, I wish this book had made up its mind whether to be a novel or a biography. The first-person voices of Hammett and Helmann were excellently done, entertaining, and seemed to be a good estimate of what might have been going on in these people's minds. The 3rd person narrative voice, however, while informative, was disappointing from the beginning and did too much of the heavy lifting.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted and expected to enjoy this novel so much more. Although I love The Thin Man series, I don't read a lot of crime or detective novels. The tone and narrative of this novel is very crisp and measured bringing to mind a detective relating crime details instead of a long-lasting love affair. Perhaps this is the reason I did not LOVE this novel.
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: be-more-bookish
The author shifts the first person narration between Lillian and Dash.
It works most of the time. Some transitions were a little confusing.
I would recommend that readers who are not sure who Lillian and Dash are- should read
the respective wiki pages. Knowing their true life history adds to the appreciation of the
Sep 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When my book group selected this book, I was thrilled. I so enjoy reading about the 20's and 30's -- all that noir stuff, but was greatly disappointed in the writing.

I found it confusing to know which person was telling his or her story and the writing was choppy. I totally lost interest and gave up. Perhaps my book group friends will have a rousing discussion and convince me to finish it!
Nona Stuck
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I've gotten older, my reading tastes have changed. I was, for much of my reading life, well into my 30's, a full-on fiction reader. When my first child was born, my list expanded to include the occasional parenting book, and a wonderful selection of children's books. Later, in my 40's, I began to be attracted to non-fict
Sarah Sullivan
Really intriguing - there were moments that were absolutely fantastic, but overall it fell somewhere in between fiction and biography, and didn't quite achieve the balance I hoped it would. Such fascinating people though - that alone makes it worth it.
Lorri Steinbacher
I second the reviews that say that it reads more like a biography than a novel. Too much exposition, not enough drama, which is surprising considering how much drama you could have wring out of the relationship. I found myself bored and had to force myself not to put it down.
Kathleen DuVall
Had no clue who they were when I started reading but enjoyed the setting in the 40's and 50's Hollywood.
Melanie  Hilliard
Meh ... I really wanted to like this book, but I never felt like I connected with the primary characters.
The first half was fun and interesting but the second just couldn't keep me engaged.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this "fictional" account of them. The author did a an excellent job of characterization.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this one, it just lost my interest.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book - but it was just too depressing.
rated it really liked it
Sep 23, 2013
Dani Alvarez
rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2014
rated it liked it
Oct 15, 2013
Eve Brown
rated it liked it
Dec 22, 2013
rated it it was ok
Apr 22, 2014
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