Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: American Blonde

American Blonde
by Jennifer Niven

Why did you choose this book? the glamour cover and the synopsis
When did you read this book? September 2014
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction who enjoy mysteries
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Here is a synopsis of American Blonde from Goodreads

A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?
In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As “Kit Rogers,” she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth— risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.
Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series.

My Review

I have to start this review with the cover and how much I love it! The vintage look drew me right in, and the blonde on the front made me feel the Hollywood glamour of the 1940s! When I learned the main character, named Velva Jean, is ‘discovered’ by MGM and embarks on a career as a glamorous actress, I immediately made a connection to Norma Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe. A wrong connection, as it turns out. This led me to believe the book was something that it was not; a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe’s story.

Now for the book itself. The book got off to a very slow start for me. Part of this was my fault, of course, because I kept waiting for the Marilyn Monroe connection that never came. But the other part was that this is the fourth book in a series about Velva Jean. I did not know this when I requested the book. The book brought in many names events from Velva Jean’s past, but never in much detail so that I was at times confused and lost. I think if I’d read the previous books, I would have appreciated this one much more.

Even though the book started slowly, and was not what I expected, it did develop into a good storyline. When Velva Jean’s best friend dies unexpectedly, this book evolves into a murder mystery with Velva Jean doing the investigating. There are many twists and turns, and the murderer is not obvious. In addition, we get a peek into the machinations of the studio politics of the 1940s and how the studios controlled and manipulated their stars. Very interesting!

One thing that I felt that I really missed out on by not reading the previous books was Velva Jean’s experience with the WASP; Women’s Air Service Pilots. I’ve read a few other books about the WASP, including Flygirl and The All-Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion, and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to Velva Jean’s experience. I will probably go back at some point and read at least that part of Velva Jean’s story, told in the second book of the series, Velva Jean Learns To Fly.

If you have read and enjoyed previous books in the Velva Jean series, you will love this one! For everyone else, if you enjoy historical fiction and/or murder mysteries, you will enjoy this one, but probably not so much as if you have read the other Velva Jean books first. And if you are interested in the Hollywood of the 1940s, Jennifer Niven has some great links on her American Blonde page! And for a look at some past Hollywood scandals, visit this page.

My Rating:  ★★★1/2   3-1/2 Stars

I received a review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and have written an honest review which appears above.
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  1. I don't think the publisher has done a very good job of promoting this book, because I also thought it was a fictionalization of Marilyn Monroe's life and I didn't know it was the fourth in a series. Great review, though, I might check out the first book.

  2. I do agree that the cover is fantastic and has a definite Marilyn Monroe feel to it! It does sound interesting, though

  3. I've heard of this, but I had no idea it's part of a series! I'm sorry you didn't love it, but it sounds like an enjoyable read. I love the cover too! :D

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts