Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Title: Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures
Author: Emma Straub
Format: ARC
Publisher: Riverhead
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a Historical Fiction fan.
  • You love Old Hollywood.
What's the Story?:

From "In 1920, Elsa Emerson, the youngest and blondest of three sisters, is born in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin. Her family owns the Cherry County Playhouse, and more than anything, Elsa relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child's game of pretend.

While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Irving becomes Laura’s great love; she becomes an Academy Award­-winning actress—and a genuine movie star. Laura experiences all the glamour and extravagance of the heady pinnacle of stardom in the studio-system era, but ultimately her story is a timeless one of a woman trying to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself."

My Two Cents:

Laura Lamont was born Elsa of Wisconsin. She grew up around her father's theatre, dreaming of the day where she might make it in Hollywood. To me, Old Hollywood is pretty much the ultimate in glitz and glam. I can totally see why Elsa would want to go there.

To me, the title "Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures" has sort of a double meaning. First, yes, this book is about Laura Lamont becoming a movie star. To me, the title could also refer to how the book is written. We only get pictures of Laura/Elsa's life. There is space in time between the different chapters in the book. We get to know Laura but not well. We don't really get to know what's she's thinking or her motivations. And we don't get that for any of the other characters either.

When I read a book, I really want to know what makes a character tick. I want to know why they do what they do. I want to know how they are feeling when they do the things they do. I find that sort of thing really helps me to feel connected to the character. I just wasn't feeling that here.

I loved the story and I loved the detail about Hollywood back in the day. You can definitely tell that the author put a lot of time and effort into researching the setting and time period of the book to make the story come to life. I definitely appreciated that.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a good setting, this is a good historical fiction for you!



  1. I love reading books set in the 1920's. Even though the characters are not well developed I think I will still read this one just for the setting.

  2. Hmmm, I was thinking about nominating this book for my book club, but I'm not the biggest fan of setting-centered books. I much prefer character-driven stories like you. Thanks for the review!


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