The enchanting story of a Midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood’s golden age.
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 child¹s 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.
Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimate—and as bigger-than-life—as the great films of the golden age of Hollywood. Written with warmth and verve, it confirms Emma Straub’s reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in fiction.
©2012 Emma Straub (P)2012 Penguin
"Straub’s brisk pacing and emotionally complex characters keep the story fresh…This bewitching novel is ultimately a celebration of those moments when we drop the act and play the hardest role of all: ourselves." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
"Will appeal to any girl who has left a small town behind to follow her dreams to the big city." (Marie Claire)
Remarkable that Straub could take one of the most colorful, romantic, and history changing eras in Hollywood and make it as drab as black and white. The story is a pale glitterless shadow of the Golden Age of Hollywood where Straub uses infamous anecdotes about well known stars, places, events, even movies -- without any imagination of her own, tweeking the name or event just enough to be an associable facsimile, and sometimes almost silly. Great characters can carry a book that isn't plot-driven, but these ghostly dopplegangers are mostly boring cliches, (smalltown girl is discovered, the Jewish producers, the secretly gay handsome leading men, the addiction to prescription drugs written by studio doctors, big movies like...*Disappeared with a Breeze*...) such light weights they couldn't be paid extras in a movie. (Is this the same magical land that inspired a whole theme park?)
Molly Ringwald is a standout, adding the only golden element to this box-office dud. I am convinced it was her great reading that kept me from walking out of the theater. Hopefully she willl continue to lend her talents to performing books for audio.
Somewhere out there is a deluded publisher that believes anything will sell if it contains the word *Hollywood.* I wasn't bored to death, but regret moving this listen ahead of others in my library, and the time lost listening to Laura Lamont. No "hoo-ray for Hollywood" here.
At best this is a replay of a story often told about the unsophisticated young girl who goes to Hollywood to become an actress. It would have been a better listen with a different narrator. She just didn't carry it off. As for the story line, I was widowed with young children at the age of 46. I didn't lose my way or forget my children in my grief. Laura Lamont struck me as self-centered and immature, the kind of person who is all to well represented in our current society and who is, frankly, boring.
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