Monday, September 1, 2014


Elsa Emerson is the youngest daughter in a family of thespians in rural Wisconsin in the 1920s.  After her beautiful older sister’s romance with a charismatic actor in the family’s theatre company ends in tragedy, the family goes into a tailspin.  Elsa grabs the first opportunity to escape to Hollywood, in the form of yet another charismatic actor, Gordon Pitts.  Gordon manages to land a studio contract with a steady income, while Laura puts her movie star ambitions on hold.  Pregnant with her second child, she catches the eye of Irving Green, a studio executive, who renames her Laura Lamont.  As Gordon’s career starts to wane, Laura’s takes off, and the two part ways, as Gordon becomes more and more seedy.  Irving begins to squire Laura around Hollywood, and soon the two are married.  Irving is basically a saint, and Laura loves him dearly.  Theirs is a storybook marriage—unusual by Hollywood standards.  Laura’s life as a celebrity, however, has its ups (an Academy Award) and downs (more family tragedies), and Laura’s coping mechanism is an addiction to barbiturates.  (Doesn’t this sound a little too familiar?)  Plus, the roles for women her age are not as plentiful as they were when she was younger, and she turns down a role as a mother, despite the fact that she has three children by now.  She reaches an all-time low when her best friend has to fire her from a ridiculous game show.  I enjoyed this book, with Laura and all of her foibles, but her journey is not all that uncommon:  Small town girl is discovered, marries a big shot, and then has to find her way back to who she really is.  She finds strength in her family, and I don’t mean the one in Wisconsin.  (Her mother has no complaint about her running off with Gordon but cannot forgive her for changing her name and marrying a Jew.)

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