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Publisher's Summary

A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood's golden age, Marlene Dietrich - from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel.

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 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, she tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she returns 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.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.

©2016 C. W. Gortner (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

input from voracious historical novels reader

narrator should have been German accent his novels need to have British accents as well

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One of the best books I’ve ever read!!!

This was just an exquisite experience. The writing, the story, Marlene!!!! This was truly one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a ton!!! The writer is phenomenal. And the heroine is one of my greatest role models!!!

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I felt like Marlene's confidante...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I understand that this story is presented as a fictional account, but Marlene's voice seemed to be captured accurately, based on everything I've ever read about her. The performance of Bernadette Dunne made it seem as if there were a dozen other people reading this book aloud. Her talent for voices and inflection were spot on and drew me in with very first paragraph. The author's description of Germany just after WWI and leading into WWII seemed so very real and I felt immersed in the atmosphere of smoky cabarets and the boulevards of pre-war Berlin. Marlene's describing of post-war Germany had me in tears. I definitely recommend this book, but only if you are not offended by frank sexual descriptions and same-sex relationships.

What did you like best about this story?

The performance of Bernadette Dunne

What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her voicing of Marlene Dietrich is spot on and gives the reader an empathy I might not have had if I had been reading it in my own voice and from my own point of view.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - I enjoyed chewing on each section after listening. I like how the book was divided into chapters within sections based on the stages of Marlene's life.

Any additional comments?

Best book I've listened to so far on Audible. I am now anxious to listen to more stories by C.W. Gortner and those voiced by Ms. Dunne.

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    4 out of 5 stars

MARLENE

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

ONLY IF THEY WERE INTO OLD MOVIES.

Who was your favorite character and why?

MARLENE, OF, COURSE!

Which scene was your favorite?

WHEN SHE MEETS GARY COOPER, "BLUE ANGELS!"

Who was the most memorable character of Marlene and why?

HER PRODUCER, BECAUSE IN THE END THEY ARE REALLY ONE.

Any additional comments?

EASY READ, INTERESTING, IF YOU ARE INTO OLDER MOVIES.

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Marlene a famous actress.

Who knew Marlene was a Major? This book was extremely interesting because it traced the beginning of movies and entertainment during 1920 after the first World War through the Second World War. Marlene was a determined person to pursue her entertainment talents to the apex of her profession. The insight into the German mindset that allowed Hitler to take-over Europe and start the world war was fascinating. The fact that she became a movie star and gave more performances than any other star showed the strength that she had to live her life on her terms. Story of a strong woman who learn to succeed in a mans world before women became liberated in the 1960's. Her belief on marriage and family relationships was unique in lifetime.

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I didn't want it end! C. W. Gortner, you've done it again!

I remember this actress though I'm not sure a lot of young people will unless they are movie buffs. I always loved her. She was quick, bright, and sharp! She could convey so much with face and eyes!

If you watch AMC, watch out for her!

Bernadette Dunne's reading was right on. I'll be checking to see if I might enjoy any other books she's narrated that I might enjoy.

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Profile Image for Ellen Lingwood
  • Ellen Lingwood
  • 06-20-17

Brilliant book

II loved this book. It's deeply absorbing. Why did it end so suddenly? I hope there's going to be a sequel' The only small flaw is that the narrator's voice can seem monotonous at times.