Author: C.W. Gortner
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: May 24, 2016
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Raised in genteel poverty after the first World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses, and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.
For the beautiful, desirous Lili Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.
But one day she will return to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved. "
My Two Cents:
Prior to reading this book, I basically knew that Marlene Dietrich was an Old Hollywood star (with absolutely stunning bone structure) who was originally from Germany - not much at all. In this book, C.W. Gortner breathes life into this woman and shows why she is still so well remembered by so many. She is a fascinating person and it easy to see why she makes such a great subject for this historical fiction.
The book is told from the perspective of Marlene. I absolutely loved being able to really step into her shoes through this book and see what she saw. Marlene does a lot of living, particularly in the earlier years of her life and it was great to see it through her eyes and to hear her explain what she was going through and what she was thinking. The book starts during her very early life as a schoolgirl in Germany so we get to know her well before she became a Hollywood siren. I loved how Gortner shows her progression from a rather shy young girl to someone who isn't afraid to put herself out there. She indulges in many pleasures throughout her young life. Her rise to Hollywood was also wonderful to read about.
I've read several of Gortner's books before and I love his way with words. He does a great job of creating very unique voices for his characters and making them incredibly memorable. By the end of the book, Marlene felt incredibly intimate to me and this book only whetted my appetite to read more about her in the future. The descriptions are a true treat for my fellow historical fiction fans!