Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin


Hi all,

I loved The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (see link below) so when I had the chance to read her latest novel, The Girls in the Picture, I jumped at it. Below is more about the book and my review.


The Girls in the Picture

Melanie Benjamin

Book Description:

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.


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My 5-Star Review:

When artist/writer, Frances Marion, is introduced to silent screen star, Mary Pickford, it is a meeting of souls. Two ambitious women working in a man’s world in 1914, dream of success and riches and the ability to call their own shots. Alone, neither may have had the courage to succeed, together as a team, they are unstoppable. And so begins a journey of both a great friendship and great success.

Author Melanie Benjamin captures the era and the larger-than-life characters perfectly in her new novel, The Girls in the Picture. Using both fact and fiction, we follow each woman through her successes and failures, and watch as they each obtain the careers and lives they dreamt about, only to find that one should be careful what they wish for. Benjamin writes wonderfully fleshed out characters in a well thought-out story, and intrigues the reader with the highs and lows these women experience. I highly recommend to star-struck readers who love stories of old Hollywood.


About the Author:

Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life--as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library--she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction.

By combining her passion for history and biography, she has found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." Her most recent novel, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a novel about Truman Capote and his high society Swans, is a New York Times, USA Today and Indiebound best seller, as was her novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE. Her first novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, was a national bestseller; this was followed by the critically acclaimed THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. Her next novel, THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE, a novel about early Hollywood and the creative friendship between Mary Pickford and Frances Marion, will be out in January 2018.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs--

And reading, of course.

Read my review of Melanie Benjamin’s novel, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE.

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