Monday, April 27, 2015

A Touch of Stardust - Book Review

A Touch of StardustA Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Published February 17th 2015 by Doubleday

When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana for Hollywood, she never imagines she'll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie's provincial Midwestern hometown. Although the young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, the only job Julie's able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick —who is busy burning through directors, writers and money as he begins filming Gone with the Wind.

Although tensions run high on the set, Julie finds she can step onto the back lot, take in the smell of smoky gunpowder and the soft rustle of hoop skirts, and feel the magical world of Gone with the Wind come to life. Julie's access to real-life magic comes when Carole Lombard hires her as an assistant and invites her into the glamorous world Carole shares with Clark Gable—who is about to move into movie history as the dashing Rhett Butler.


Carole Lombard, happily profane and uninhibited, makes no secret of her relationship with Gable, which poses something of a problem for the studio as Gable is technically still married—and the last thing the film needs is more negative publicity. Julie is there to fend off the overly curious reporters, hoping to prevent details about the affair from slipping out. But she can barely keep up with her blonde employer, let alone control what comes out of Carole's mouth, and--as their friendship grows - soon finds she doesn't want to. Carole, both wise and funny, becomes Julie's model for breaking free of the past.


In the ever-widening scope of this story, Julie is given a front-row seat to not one but two of the greatest love affairs of all time: the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett, and off screen, the deepening love between Carole and Clark. Yet beneath the shiny façade, things in Hollywood are never quite what they seem, and Julie must learn to balance career aspirations and her own budding romance with outsized personalities and the overheated drama on set.

Dear Mr. Gable you make me love you.
That alone should say a lot about this review. Maybe I should start with explaining how I heard about this book. I had probably, most likely, just finished watching Gone With the Wind; applauding both Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh for that ending (which gets me every time!) And it was mentioned on TCM.
Now that I finish this story I'm guessing it was just an excuse for me to mention watching Gone With the Wind and loving Clark Gable.

A book not only about the golden age of Hollywood but featuring Clark Gable and Carole Lombard? No description required!

Especially considering that this description barely matches the actual story in the book. It's like trying to sell Gone With the Wind as a plain war movie. The war is just background. It does help shape up and build Scarlett into who she becomes but it really isn't what the story is about.

That's what Carole is to Julie, a background who helps build her up. We don't even get to really know who Carole Lombard is. She liked animals and wasn't afraid to speak her mind; that's all I got from her.
I'm sorry to say that I personally think the moments with Carole and Clark were the best. Sorry, because that's only about 40% of the book. We barely get any Clark not throwing some tantrum about how to play Rhett. The longest was probably their wedding, which yes did make me pretty sad considering how it ends. (The marriage, not the wedding.)

And the scenes from the movie aren't very realistic, we do get a disclaimer in the beginning that they have been shorten but it still doesn't make sense. They move from rooms and go down stairs, I don't even think that could be done in a longshot. But maybe I'm wrong, maybe they did have a way to follow Rhett from his study down the stairs and out the door and into the fog.
The rest of the on set time just felt like I was reading off a fact sheet about the movie; no real depth.

Going by the description this review is more or less done. No need to mention that the main character Julie has a love interest of her own and that there's also an impending war going on. That said love interest never shuts up about. Again no real depth, he just went on about how everyone should care more.
And his hot and cold relationship with Julie just got annoying after the first breakup attempt. It was like both Scarlett and Rhett in one; wanting but still pushing away.

I just don't feel like there was any balance between the time on set and Julie's life, which really had nothing to do with the movie.

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