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he by John Connolly
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it was amazing

Author John Connolly is best known for the Charlie Parker novels. Oddly, even though I am a huge crime fan, I have never tried these, so I came to this book without any prior expectations or knowledge of his writing. This is a fictional biography of Stan Laurel; rather like Joyce Carol Oates similar book, “Blonde,” which took Marilyn Monroe as her subject. Although a fairly long read, it contains 203 very short chapters – some only a paragraph long – and is, subsequently, a fairly quick read, which keeps you engrossed.

Arthur Stanley Jefferson changed his name to Stan Laurel in 1931 and was, of course, famous for being one half of Laurel and Hardy – along with Oliver Hardy, or ‘Babe’ as he is known throughout this novel. Stan first went to America in 1910, along with the star of the show, Charlie Chaplin. Stan was a failure on the tour and returned to Britain, before returning to the States in 1912, again to understudy Chaplin.

Veering towards an elderly, dying Stan Laurel, now retired and living with his memories, and the reminiscences of his life, we are taken through his life, career, marriages and love affairs. There are his early struggles to find success. Obviously ambitious and longing for stardom, Stan longs to be Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, but realises he can’t do it alone. Enter Babe Hardy, ‘the funniest fat comedian in the world.’ A man who has had his own struggles but, in him, Stan finds his soul mate and, as becomes obvious, the person he loves most in the world. Babe, larger than life, drinks, gambles, plays golf and, along with Stan, finds stardom.

Along with the successes are difficulties, of course. We are taken through vaudeville, early Hollywood, divorces, contracts and film studio struggles. If you already know a lot about Stan Laurel’s life, this may not tell you too much you do not already know. However, this is obviously a fictional biography and I found it absolutely fascinating. Although I remember Laurel and Hardy films from my childhood (and my husband is a huge fan), I really did not know much about him at all. I enjoyed reading these recollections and memories; haunted by the ghosts of Stan’s son, who died at only nine days old, Charlie Chaplin and, always, and most movingly, Babe Hardy. A wonderful read and I must, finally, get to those Charlie Parker novels, as I loved John Connolly’s writing.

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Reading Progress

July 23, 2017 – Shelved
July 23, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
July 25, 2017 – Started Reading
July 28, 2017 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Great review, Susan :)

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