Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
All the glamour and romance of Tinseltown’s Golden Age comes to life in All the Stars in the Heavens, the latest historical novel from Adriana Trigiani. Here’s the blurb:
Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Carole Lombard lead a magnificent cast of characters, real and imagined, in Adriana Trigiani’s new novel set in the rich landscape of 1930s’ Los Angeles. In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Trigiani takes us back to the golden age of movie-making and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame, success – and love. With meticulous, beautiful detail, she paints a rich landscape, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.
Behind the scenes, the life of a movie star is often more complicated than it looks. Set in a time when studios owned actors and actresses and morals clauses kept their private life on a tight leash, Trigiani explores the stories behind the silver screen through her cast of real and imagined characters. While a number of characters have a voice, the heart of the story belongs to Loretta Young (aka Gretchen) and Alda, her secretary, as they grasp at love in a fragile world. To me, Alda’s story was the one that most resonated, and I’d liked to have seen that be the main focus.
This is the first book I’ve read of Trigiani’s, who has been highly recommended to me. With nothing to compare to, and taking the book as fantasy (albeit with real characters), I found it an entertaining enough read. Not outstanding, and a bit slow at times, but pleasant. The story felt a little two-dimensional; it didn’t serve up the emotional punch I expected, given that it is, at its heart, supposed to be a love story. As an historical piece, I can’t really comment. I did do some cross-checking – I often do with historicals – but since I understood from the outset that it was an imagined scenario, I wasn’t overly worried by supposed historical inaccuracies. Some reviewers on Goodreads have been quite vocal about that. I do think it’s possible to just accept a story as a story.
I liked this book, but didn’t love it. I’d like to read some more of Trigiani’s novels, especially those set in Italian villages. Convince me!
Available from good bookstores (RRP $32.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster AU.