In 1920, Elsa Emerson is born to the owners of the Cherry County Playhouse in Door County, Wisconsin. 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 Hollywood mogul Irving Green, who refashions her as an exotic brunette screen siren and renames her Laura Lamont. But fame has its costs, and while Laura tries to balance career, family, and personal happiness, she realizes that Elsa Emerson might not be gone completely. 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. (Goodreads description)
I really liked the concept of being given the whole story in briefer snapshots of Elsa/Laura's life. When it began, I thought Elsa would be lost in the Hollywood world, as she grew up the shadow, but she held her own after marrying someone with the same ambitions in life. Well... for awhile at least.
Though the title gave somewhat of a lighter feel to the book, once I started it I realized what heavy material was in the pages. Elsa/Laura started from nothing, moved on to fast Hollywood life, and then hit a downward spiral -- as many stars still do today. The story is probably quite realistic from what we see in the media with celebrities and their sad stories.
Unfortunately, I didn't really fall in love with any of the characters, but the plot was interesting and moved quickly. As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the flow of the book, after getting used to it, and it definitely made for a quick read. If you're interested in this time period or life of movie stars, give it a try!
The paperback is out today! Thanks to Penguin Group for the review copy!