The Girls In The Picture
by Melanie Benjamin
Why did you choose this book? I’ve enjoyed previous novels by this author
When did you read this book? October 2017
Who should read this book? Fans of Hollywood history
My Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4 Stars
Here is a synopsis of The Girls In The Picture from Goodreads
An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.
Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.
Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.
This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.
I’m going to start out my 2018 blogging year with a long overdue review for a book I read earlier last fall. The publication date for The Girls In The Picture is approaching, so it seems like a good time to blog my review!
I really enjoyed this one! It hit all the marks for me for good historical fiction: I learned something new, I was inspired to do some online research to learn more, the author gave some insight into what was fact and what was imagined, and not least important,the story was interesting!
This is a story of the friendship of Mary Pickford, the first ‘movie star’ and Frances Marion, an early Hollywood screenwriter, known as a ‘scenarist’ at that time. While I’d heard of Mary Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, I knew very little about them, and I don’t think I’d ever heard of Frances Marion. The story of their friendship, with its ups and downs, was engaging, but I may have liked the glimpse into the early days of film-making even more! As the story started, ‘Hollywood’ was not even a thing, and movie making consisted of filming silent movies. Anyone with equipment could film a movie and call themselves a movie studio. It must have been similar to YouTube today! There were no movie stars, but merely interchangeable rosters of actors. Of course as we know, an industry evolved and changed, with major movie studios appearing complete with a stable of stars.
One thing that apparently has not changed from the early days is the way the power was held by men and the use of the ‘casting couch’. The Harry Weinstein story broke as I was in the middle of this novel, which made the novel and Mary’s role in early Hollywood seem all that much more relevant!
One thing I really appreciated about this book was that, while it was not a ‘can’t-put-it-down’ read for me, it was very engaging. I had to put it down for a couple of weeks at one point, simply because I had two reserves come in from the library that I had to finish for book clubs. Usually when I put a book aside it is very difficult for me to get into the book again, and I often have to go back to the beginning and start over. This time however, I picked the book up and it was as if those 2 weeks hadn’t happened. I had not trouble reconnecting with the story and the characters. While I don’t recommend setting it aside, the book is engaging enough that you will be able to read it and enjoy it is small pieces if necessary.
You can visit the author’s webpage to learn more. Be sure to ‘The World of the Girls in the Picture’ and the author had compiled for background information about the book! I’ve not found a discussion guide yet, but expect that one will appear soon.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book for review purposes.